On Fear, Mistakes & Finding One’s Self

Nimide Fala
5 min readJun 21, 2017

I was tired and it wasn’t physical, I was the healthiest I’d ever been and this was more a mental and emotional fatigue. In the words of Biblo Baggins, “I felt thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread.”

Sometimes I wanted to explode, letting out all of the internalized pain and anger, but I couldn’t. Whose fault was it that I felt inadequate, like a minute and largely insignificant equation in the overall scheme of things? Sadly, no one — the world owed me nothing.

The weight of the world came down on me everyday, like heavy torrents of rain, mercilessly beating fear into my being, crippling my energy and dissolving any passion in me.

I crumbled under it all — the fear of not becoming something more became a familiar garment.

I told myself each day that I was no ordinary human — the assurance of a greater purpose still burned in me. I rarely thought of death — would God create a human as potent as I thought myself to be, only to die after living an ordinary life, I asked myself often, ignoring the abysmal absence of the aforementioned potency.

Day after day, I waited, in vain, for an epiphany, an awakening, a sign, something to show me which way to go, which path to trod — my purpose.

I fell sick — I, living in perpetual discontent and dissatisfaction of my life, couldn’t shake the overwhelming malaise that had engulfed me — somehow, a psycho-emotional distress had completely crippled my physical abilities and my health began to show tell tale signs of the turmoil that ravaged my mind.

Love eluded me. I went from relationship to relationship, hoping that the next one would fill the emptiness that ravished my being, that the next one would be the one, but without loving myself, without dignity, I found neither love nor peace.

I felt, mostly, that over the years, I had inadvertently given away too much of my soul, my essence to people — too much of my love, of my time, emotions, of everything and sometimes in my most melodramatic moments, I imagined going back to every ex and asking them to return the pieces of my soul.

‘Give me back that fragment of my soul’, I’d say. ‘Give it back to me’.

Of the things that plagued me, perhaps the fear of failure was the greatest. I feared failing. I feared leaving no mark on the world and my fear reduced me to even less than I was. I did nothing because I feared I would be ridiculed. I did nothing because I feared that I would fall short of the standards the society has placed on humanity.

I lived my life hiding from people, blending in, becoming a shadow of myself, forgetting that, sometimes, when hiding from the world, you end up hiding from yourself.

What is this thing I was created for? What is this purpose I should be living for? Why am I really here, I constantly asked myself and silence greeted me while fear caressed my innards.

In the end, I don’t know if it was Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life that did it for me, or the words of Ed Catmull, co-founder of Pixar;

‘We need to think about failure differently. I’m not the first to say that failure, when approached properly, can be an opportunity for growth. But the way most people interpret this assertion is that mistakes are a necessary evil. Mistakes aren’t a necessary evil. They aren’t evil at all. They are an inevitable consequence of doing something new (and, as such, should be seen as valuable; without them, we’d have no originality). And yet, even as I say that embracing failure is an important part of learning, I also acknowledge that acknowledging this truth is not enough. That’s because failure is painful, and our feelings about this pain tend to screw up our understanding of its worth. To disentangle the good and the bad parts of failure, we have to recognize both the reality of the pain and the benefit of the resulting growth.’

Or perhaps, the words of German Philospher, Friedrich Nietzsche;

‘Any human being who does not wish to be part of the masses need only stop making things easy for himself. Let him follow his conscience, which calls out to him: “Be yourself! All that you are now doing, thinking, desiring, all that is not you.”

Every young soul hears this call by day and by night and shudders with excitement at the premonition of that degree of happiness which eternities have prepared for those who will give thought to their true liberation. There is no way to help any soul attain this happiness, however, so long as it remains shackled with the chains of opinion and fear. And how hopeless and meaningless life can become without such a liberation! There is no drearier, sorrier creature in nature than the man who has evaded his own genius and who squints now towards the right, now towards the left, now backwards, now in any direction whatever.’

I decided, rather suddenly and ordinarily (no fireworks or anything), to stop living in abject fear and rather to be! I decided to find myself, and although it’s a rather agonizing and hazardous undertaking, this digging into oneself, I chose to see it through.

I will stay on the pathway of finding my purpose, I refused to be counted as a statistic, as one of the generation of thoughtless twenty-somethings, faffing round the world in a mindless haze, no direction and no purpose.

And henceforth, when I do make mistakes, I will embrace it, refusing to be cowered by the thought that I am a failure because isn’t failure essentially the conduit to fearlessness?

So this is what I wish you, yes, you reading this –

That you will know fear, the fear of living an ordinary life, and rather than cripple you, it will mould you, shape you, and push you make you a better version of yourself.

That you will find the courage to look inwards and that you will have to strength to live and work with whatever you find in there.

That you will be willing because, where there’s a will, then there’s a way.

That you will love freely and abundantly, especially during periods of pain, because the most natural painkiller is love.

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