Fear of Failure: A Downward Spiral by Dear Cookie Monster

Fear of Failure: A Downward Spiral

Dear All of You,

Here is my (Twenty, age 20) answer to the writing prompt:

What would you do if you weren’t afraid? What can you do now to make that a reality?

I’ll do the same thing as both Ana (age 25) and Twenty-Three (age 23) and list my fears, how I handle them, and what I want to do differently.

My fears, in no particular order:

  • Failing my classes
  • Not getting into graduate school
  • Getting fat
  • Getting caught with drugs
  • Boys not liking me
  • Bingeing

Maybe there are more, but it’s been 5 years since I was in the driver’s seat and I might have forgotten a few things.

How I handled those fears:

  • I took drugs to study and pulled all-nighters
  • I worried
  • I purged any food I binged
  • I found a second doctor to give me the prescriptions I abused by pretending I had ADD.
  • I gave the second doctor lots of presents and was overly charming so he wouldn’t ask me questions
  • I put the pills inside empty chapstick cases so they weren’t obvious
  • I wore revealing clothes, got drunk, and threw myself at boys so they would like me
  • I never said “no” no matter how uncomfortable boys made me
  • I dissociated if they did things I really didn’t want to do so I wouldn’t experience it
  • I looked at lots of thinspo and took drugs so I wouldn’t feel hungry

The base fear: failure

I was bridging two worlds: school and partying. I wanted to be the best at both and things quickly fell apart on both fronts. I couldn’t party care-free without becoming a drunk / high mess because of how worried I was about school. I couldn’t do well at school because recovering from being a drunk / high mess plus throwing up my food all the time was time-consuming and energy-draining.

If I wasn’t afraid I would…

  • Tell boys “no”
  • Tell boys “no” even after they bought me drinks
  • Tell boys “no” if I didn’t want to go further – I always felt guilty stopping the show, like I had lead them on

Looking back, there are so many things that would have helped:

Not partying as hard, scaling back on the academic pressure, investing in eating disorder recovery. In the moment, however, addressing those issues didn’t seem possible. I was lost. Only stuff with boys was something I think I could have approached.

I appreciate how you all are starting to acknowledge my past state and accept that, rather than look down on me from the future and shame me for things I couldn’t possibly understand.

We’ve come a long way.


Signature: Twenty (Dear Cookie Monster)

Twenty (age 20)

Life Update

As for the life update, I think it should be limited to 3 sentences. These letters are getting way too long.

So: 1. Still no bingeing (almost 1.5 weeks I think). 2. Official job offer came through – is super fancy and I’m excited (besides it being in the middle of no where). 3. I’m hanging out with people and that feels awesome.



6 thoughts on “Fear of Failure: A Downward Spiral

  1. braddahr says:

    This is an amazingly kind and gentle thing to say to yourself:
    “I appreciate how you all are starting to acknowledge my past state and accept that, rather than look down on me from the future and shame me for things I couldn’t possibly understand.”

    Liked by 1 person

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