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Despite the many societal, environmental and cultural issues most African-American women encounter as young adolescents, the ideas of independence and self-sufficiency are deeply embedded into our minds. Whether it was through lessons taught, our own perceptions, or entertainment, these ideas are often accompanied by the sheer fear of failure.

According to a case study conducted by Ohio State University student, Tiffany Steele, “The oppressive nature of the idea of merit that attributes failure to those who do not succeed can be detrimental to the development of one’s self-concept.” This conscious or unconscious decision to be independent has resulted in offering ourselves little-to-no room for error. Aside from the ideas of independence and self-sufficiency, our fear of failure is equally stemmed from the idea of: disappointing a parent, financial affairs, living our life for someone other than ourselves. 


neon sign, pink color that says breathe.
Photo by Fabian Møller from Unsplash

The common fear of failure can control and affect the educational and personal aspects of our lives. This feeling of anxiety and worry can immensely inhibit our growth as certain, unconstrained individuals.

Educational Impact

Essentially, college requires the diligent and persistent characteristics of the average successful student. In addition to this requirement, the fear of failure places the pressure to strive for perfection rather than efficiency. It is usually why we are up all night practicing a presentation instead of being well-rested for the presentation. There is no problem with thriving in the academic environment however, the issue arises once we allow our experiences and lessons to become our self-identity and affect our confidence and who we truly are. 

Personal Impact

With a fear of failure, the personal impact may be the most restraining and limiting. With everything that we do, we are our biggest critic and will not give ourselves the room for growth and personal development which we all need. It is a constant focus on our future and the inability to live in the moment. This worry results in the failure to treat oneself with grace and compassion. We instead ought to acknowledge our success as a great friend, a good daughter, a creative thinker and the many other titles that describe who we are and not what we do.

Usually, the fear of failure has more so to do with the fear of the unknown and not how we are performing. But no matter how much planning or procrastination we do, the things that occur in life are mysterious and unexpected. Try to relieve the amount of pressure you put onto yourself and accept situations for what they may be. You can’t be afraid to learn a new skill, start a new business, go back to school, or apply for your dream job. 

Go apply for that internship or scholarship and give yourself the compassion that you need to succeed. 


woman in front of a computer
Photo by RF._.studio from Pexels

I am Jalondra Jackson, a multiform arts and culture writer, curator and enthusiast. Currently, I am a Junior studying Journalism and Business Administration at Clark Atlanta University. My portfolio is influenced by the ever-shifting industry of art and the underrepresented areas in the arts. I began this journey by serving as a content writer for Her Campus CAU and my university’s newspaper, The CAU Panther.
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