When I was younger, Dead Poet’s Society was one of my favorite movies. I watched it endlessly, eventually wearing out my VHS copy and having to replace it with a new one. While a lot of people would probably consider the movie a coming of age film, to me the resonating point of the movie was about being fearless. The Carpe Diem mantra is something that I’ve always struggled with.
Everyone has things that they are afraid of to one extent or another, and very few people are truly fearless in nature. Everyone is going to have insecurities, regardless of how deeply they are buried. My own true fear has always been the fear of failure. This fear has actually led to many of the decisions that I’ve made over the course of my life, and not all of those decisions were the best ones for me.
This fear carries over into everything that I do, including my gaming time. Every night that we raid, failure is not an option for me. Well, I mean, obviously it is – but every night that there are struggles leaves me almost distraught with worry. Mostly because I’m completely petrified of failing. Failing as a player, failing as a leader, failing as a motivator.
I push so hard, because I cannot fail. I wear myself thin, because I cannot fail. I continue to put one foot in front of the other, regardless of how painful it may be, because I cannot fail.
While I’ve let my fear of failing stop me from pursuing other things in my life (hello promising classical music career, I’m looking at you), I’ve yet to let it (completely) consume my gaming. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s not still there under the surface, it just means that I’ve done a better job about not being such a chicken shit as I’ve gotten older. Don’t get me wrong, I’m most certainly not sitting down at the PC and roaring “CARPE DIEM!” before logging in each night to try to overcome my fear of failure, but I generally do a decent enough job at keeping it in perspective.
At least until we have one of those nights. The nights that seem completely out of my control. Where the harder I try to bring it back on track, the worse it gets. And by the end of those nights my fear is out in full force – and the walls of strength I’ve built over many years start cracking under the strain, dangerously in peril of crumbling. Failure is my own personal Jabberwocky whose sole existence is to torment and terrify me. A nightmare destined to run for eternity. Some nights I can brandish my sword and run that Jabberwocky right through – but others it seems that my sword gets stuck in its scabbard and I have nothing to do but flee, because standing firm will surely lead to my demise.
Sometimes on these nights my fear comes dangerously close to winning. The shadow of the Jabberwocky always behind me, the swoosh of its wings filling my ears whispering “you cannot escape your failure”. And as my foundations fail to hold me up, I break down. It usually happens privately, an exclusive show for one, with no one else the wiser. And each time it happens it is a struggle to slay the Jabberwocky – to face my fears, re-fortify my walls, and continue pushing forward.
But I have grown weary of this never-ending dance with my Jabberwocky. I am ready to permanently defeat him – and the only way I can see to do that is to face my fear. I am ready to fortify my walls to make them stronger so that they cannot be torn down. I am ready to stop letting my fear of failure speak louder than my drive to succeed. I am ready to stop being afraid. Return here again, Jabberwocky, and you will not live to torment me again.
And so it is that I have sounded my barbaric yawp over the rooftops of the world. I only hope that it was loud enough to resonate in my foundations and keep them strong.