• Samuel Gegen

Scared Sh*tless - Why is everyone afraid to fail?

Updated: Dec 25, 2019

Failure. This is a tough thing to take in but crucial for growth. Crucial for success. Crucial for attaining goals. No one likes to fail. Failure is so critical because it means you are willing to take risks and willing to do what makes you happy. When I first got sober, I was terrified to fail. I didn’t want to talk about it because if I relapsed, I was bound to feel inferior and shame. Not to mention, there would be people casting their doubts to me, about me or behind my back. This makes it feel like people are against you and that you are on an uphill battle all alone.

After a month of being sober, I told people close to me about it (reminder my family already knew and some very close coworkers/friends). I needed the support in my life and needed to be vocal about it for accountability. After I first decided to clean up, I kept it a secret and went into avoidance of people and isolation. Without filling in my friends, they thought I was just being cold and distant so I needed to come clean. Some of my drinking friends found out and reassured me this is temporary. “You’ll be back out with us. You can’t do this. Come out and have some fun.” – Were just a few things I heard. They tried to convince me this wasn’t a problem and that when I was done being ‘boring’ I’d be right back out there with them taking shots, blacking out and stumbling around the town. To be quite clear, I wanted sobriety and a better future more than I wanted these people in my life. I talk quite clearly and bluntly in my last blog post about these people. They can make or break you and I REFUSE to be broken. I already felt broken and damaged for so long I was ready to repair myself. I deserve it. Everyone deserves to thrive and I was not going to let any person, place or thing get in my way of my sobriety and personal goals. No one.

This blog is not about sobriety. It’s about life. It’s about struggles, successes, dominating the mind and many other things! 100% of people need recovery. It’s not specific to alcoholics and those suffering from addiction. Everyone goes through pain and if they recover and deal with it, they can move on. They can grow. And they can use their mistakes and pain of the past to shape for a better future.

Failing hard vs. Failing Small

We all encounter small failures each week. Just think about a time when something hasn’t gone your way but it taught you a small lesson. If you’re smart, you listen to these failures. Maybe it’s a small interaction with someone and it goes sideways. This leads you to think, I’m not doing or saying that again. I have an example. One time I shared something very small and insignificant with someone I truly trusted. This person has been there for me, given me great advice and was there when I needed to talk about my struggles. One time, I shared something with them very small and insignificant because I trusted them. Come to find out the next day they shared this detail with someone else. Silly gossip at its finest! This happened a year or so ago and although it was pretty insignificant it taught me a lesson. Trust can be broken easily. When I tell someone something, I always now think, would I care if this person shared this with someone else? It was a valuable lesson to me in the importance of small talk and gossip and that it’s just not conducive nor productive. “If they gossip with you, they will gossip about you.” This was a small failure but definitely shaped my future interactions moving forward.

Failing Hard is AMAZING!

Never thought you’d hear that huh? Embrace failing. Love failing. Do it fast and do it often! Some of my biggest failures made me buck up, change my mindset and grow exponentially! I have so many examples of this I’m not quite sure where to start. Failures are what made me what I am today. I’m sure everyone has heard the quote “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” This coincides with failing. Failure is a great life teacher and if you fail, you learn from it. If you don’t, then you do it again – just like the quote says.

A huge financial FAILURE

One of my biggest regrets and biggest failures in my life is taking out an excessive amount of student loans. The amount I took out was ridiculous and for that amount I should at least have a PhD or Masters but I don’t. I have a bachelors in Kinesiology from K-State and it didn’t take me long, just 3.5 years. I took out more than enough so I didn’t have to work, so I could afford to party and get a big check at the beginning of each semester that I could blow. After I graduated in 2009 and got the bill of $75,000 I about had a heart attack. I had no job post-graduation and had to get to work so I could pay this debt off that was looming over my head. It doesn’t help hearing all the horror stories about students defaulting, unable to make minimum payments and having this debt for 20-30 years. I was freaked OUT! In the back of my mind I knew I would be okay however I had no idea how or the road map to get there. I got a job waiting tables just to start getting some sort of financial income. 6 months after I graduated, I received my first of the student debt bills which totaled over $600 / month! This was just the minimum and most of it went to interest. I had no idea how I could make these payments. I was living with my parents, 22 years old and waiting on tables. That wasn’t even the worst part, the interest levels were so high when I made these payments around only $80 was going to the principal balance. In this hamster wheel, I was bound to be paying these until I die if I didn’t make drastic and aggressive changes. In my previous story, I told everyone about my graduation + career timeline. In summary, it went from waiting tables, to low paying office job, to personal training and research for KU university and all the way to the sales role I’m in now. I never once missed a payment to Sallie. Boy did I hate Sallie. This chick was a burden and felt like she was ruining my life. Haven’t we discovered that women aren’t my type!? J During this time, I opted into interest rate reduction programs, refinanced and consolidated some of the loans. I did whatever it took to get the interest rates down and then pay more than I had to so the balances would incrementally get smaller. I can now say that in September of 2019 (almost 10 years later) I paid off my Sallie Mae private loans which was over $40,000!!! In the last year, I paid $28,000 of that alone. In sum total, I paid much more than that having to pay interest for many years. After I made this last payment, it felt like there was a leash removed around my neck and I felt a little more free.

The financial lesson from the financial failure

Oh boy was this a lesson. It taught me that bills come first. If you can’t afford it, don’t buy it. If you are broke or have to live paycheck to paycheck and have a decent job, you are simply living above your means. Period. As my income went up, I chose to live in a one bedroom apartment. I chose to keep my paid off car (and still have it) because I wanted to take care of this debt first. I put hundreds and thousands of dollars extra per month towards my student loans. Ask those around me. I’m frugal AF but it’s all for a purpose. That frugality won’t go away because it’s permanently wired in my brain. This all taught me about financial priorities and financial freedom. It made me question all purchases and before I bought a house, I had to put myself in a position to be able to afford it. When I say afford it, I mean not just the payment. I mean if something breaks could I fix it? Could I still buy the healthy groceries I want to eat? Not live paycheck to paycheck? Be able to invest and save? Be able to travel wherever I want, whenever I want? When I was able to answer yes to all of these, I bought my house. Pretty simple, eh? Not really! All these financial burdens and lessons led me to make these smart decisions in my 30s. I was not about to fail and make the same mistake twice.

How you look at things is so important. It is more important than the actual things. If you change how you look at the world, the world changes. One of my favorite quotes. Go out there and embrace every time you fail and learn from it. It leads you one step closer to success. The world is your teacher and you are the student. If you take the risk and fail, long term, you will be more successful and happier for trying.

Call to Action:

When was the last time you failed and it ended up being bringing something good into your life?

After reading this, what risk are you going to take that you’ve been wanting to do for awhile but have been held back because of others opinions or doubts?

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