Fear and Failure

I bought a road bike. She’s* real pretty. I got shoes that clip in and a fancy saddle so my delicates won’t hurt.

My new ride.

And now I guess I have to ride this bike.

I know it’s ridiculous, but this bike scares me. The clips scare me, because I will fall over. It’s simply a matter of when, not if. You all can start a betting pool now.

But it’s not only falling that scares me. Road rash and shame, unappealing though they are, are temporary. I’m much more afraid of that bike gathering dust in my garage. I look at it and hear the two voices that are constantly bickering inside my head:

Whheeee! A new bike! Just imagine all the great rides ahead of you.


When, exactly, do you plan to do all of this riding? And do you really expect to ever achieve anything bigger than finishing a little sprint triathlon? Who are you kidding, lady?

A) Don’t tell me you have peaceful silence in your head. Please tell me that you, too, have conflicting self-talk going on.

B) That second voice is bitchy, right?

I think that this latest fear – and doubt – are only a glimpse into my psyche. And possibly a lot of other psyches, as well. I can’t be alone, or else Pinterest, wouldn’t be plastered with quotes like this:







I’m a realist: I know that failure is always a possibility. I tell my kids that it’s much better to work hard and fail than to wonder what if…? And I believe that. I do.

And yet… I think I let the idea of failure hold me back more than I like to admit. You know, if I’m going to tell my kids that they have to be okay falling on their faces, I need to fall on mine sometimes.

I’ve heard people quote this line a few times – What would you attempt if you knew you could not fail?

There’s something to that; I kind of think you do have to approach your goals under the delusion that you cannot, will not fail. But you also have to be prepared to fail, and accept failure as part of the learning process. Is that too Pollyanna?

Just for grins, if I could guarantee success here’s what I would do:

An Iron Man

This may truly may be hilarious, since I’m clearly never getting rid of my plantar faciitis, but still. This is a no-fail scenario, so bite me, plantar faciitis.

Act, On Stage, In a Play

I’ve always said I couldn’t be an actor, because I’m awful at it. That may be the case, but I have no idea if I’m awful or not. My last role was Big Billy Goat Gruff in kindergarten. But since this is a no fail thing, I’m probably going to walk away with a Tony.

This is real life, however, and not my no-fail la-la land. So I’m going to start by taking that bike out for a ride. If you see me, please maneuver your car way far away from me, so that you don’t run over me. And also so I don’t try to wave at you, causing me to lose my balance and fall over because I couldn’t get my feet out of those clips fast enough.

I wonder…

:: Cheesy though it is, what would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?

:: What are your wise words on tackling goals and trying new things?

*The bike is a she and she’s nameless. Any thoughts?



  1. Awesome new ride. My bike is pink, with a basket and and huge comfy seat. I ride it often (with my kids). Your serious bike scares me too!

    But you can indeed do it. I believe that taking the first step — buying the serious bike — is the hardest step.

    If I could not fail? Hmmm. I’ve tried to answer this before. Maybe I set my sights too low, but honestly I have never been able to come up with a suitable answer to this question. I want to dream big, but . . . my mind just doesn’t seem to grasp much beyond my current little world.

    • I think there’s something to be said for being present in our world, right where we are, right now. Dreams are important, but today I was living proof that hanging out inside our heads is no good. I got all twisted up in there and had a rotten day. So silly.

      And your world is not small – what you do, the children you’re raising, they are big things. There’s plenty of time to tackle the what if I couldn’t fail question.

      Your pink bike sounds awesome. I want the big, comfy seat!

  2. I like your new ride!

    Not sure, what I’d do if I couldn’t fail. This question will probably have me thinking the whole weekend.

    • So did you think about it all weekend? What did you come up with?

  3. That is one sweet ride. I don’t blame you on the fear part. Even getting on my cruiser for the first time last year had me a bit freaked out.
    What would I do? I would work even harder at my business. I think part of me holds back for fear of really blowing it and being found out as a fraud.

    • You? Absolutely not a fraud. Keep working and revel in your success!

  4. Bike name – Speedy? Missy?

    I’d “write that book” if I knew I couldn’t fail. Or finish it, since I started it and got 1/2 way through in November.

    • Speedy. Ha. But a girl can dream. 😉

      Finish that book. You hear me?!

  5. I’m actually hoping to write about this, this week, but I bought my first road bike after a disastrous 100k while out of shape on a hybrid. This, um, may now be the guest post that I owe you.

    As far as falling — yeah, you’re going to. But, you’re only going to bruise your ego. Heck, every now & then, I still fall with the clips . . . it’s a “I’m going very, very slowly and . . . whoops” type situation where I couldn’t get my feet out at first.

    The first time I rode my road bike, though, I was still getting used to the speed . . . simply, going 20-25 miles an hour on something powered by me, and only me, was freaky. A neighborhood girl was just going around the block in her Huffy and was, easily, outstripping me.

    But, years later, I’m truly at home on the bike (even if I fall to the ground every now & then because, dammit, clips are hard)

    And I’m going to run an Iron Man some day, so failure is a very real possibility. I’m also going to write a musical.

    If failure truly weren’t an option, I’d write & publish a novel and I’d become a concert pianist.

    • Sounds like the perfect guest post. Just saying…

      I love your goals. I will buy the first ticket to your musical!

  6. I would do everything and anything if I knew that I wouldn’t fail! First… diet, running, finish a novel (writing one), take amazing photographs of food & my kids, open a bakery…. the list is endless really!

    Oh, those conversations that you have in your head…. they’re going on all day in mine.

    • Oh, thank goodness I am not alone. There’s a constant running dialogue in my head…

      PS – Go for it & do all the things you mentioned!

  7. I love everything about this – your new ride, the fact that you admit that you’re afraid to fall, and the fact that buying the bike and posting this post you’re still saying I can so go for it!

    (And for the record, you so should!)


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