Opinion | Jan. 23 12:00 pm EST
DE LEON

Fearing failure

Illustration by Darializa Avila-Chevalier

To most Columbians, the fear of failure is a hackneyed part of Columbian culture, losing even its most intrinsic psychological shock value. The fear of failure, much like a bowel movement, simply exists as a necessary but unavoidable aspect of Ivy League life. It has become something monitored and even cultivated, for no truly successful career has emerged without it.

The fear of failure inhabits and seeks deep approbation from its Columbian host. Residing in minds already deformed by abnormal childhood, the fear of failure rests comfortably in its ambition-driven home, with its ambition-driven sofa, and its ambition-driven TV. Here we see the fear in its natural habitat.

But the fear is more than a sentiment or parasite. It has become our friend on lonely Butler nights, providing the internal alarm clock when our own alarm fails during our 20-minute 3 a.m. nap. The fear also gives us the superhuman dose of adrenaline afterward, and keeps us going well after our 12 p.m. exam. The fear is the fear that prompted us to select Columbia in the first place, when we were asked where we would like to send our Common Application.

But years of the Columbia cuisine has slowly plumped our skeletal, bare, and vulnerable fear into its more ostentatious and lavish self, addiction. The fear of failure–inevitable and crass–was never once invited into our souls. Squatting in the filth of our mental attic, we fed the fear with our own ambition, allowing it to stay and make itself at home. As time passed on, this fear was shown to come to our aid in times of need, but, still unwanted, its method of helping was through traumatization and terror.

The more it came to our rescue, the more our debt grew, and the more inextricable became our reliance on this fear. Although this fear was born as a response, its adult years have turned it into an addiction for our success. We are addicted to fearing failure.

I would like us simply to recognize, as a student body, the way in which our fear has evolved into an addiction, the way in which we heedlessly search for success without justification or warrant. The fear was only the beginning: In witnessing its use, we have come to love the fear and love the impetus it has become for our success.

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