Skip Nav
6 Things to Consider Before Accepting a Job Offer
Buying a House
How to Prepare Your Credit to Buy a Home
Job Search
4 Lies You Shouldn't Tell Your Interviewer

You Asked: I Am Afraid of Failure

Dear Sugar --

I am a Senior at an art school and will be getting my Bachelor's in Advertising soon. I recently entered an ad campaign for a competition and didn't make it. Everyone says that my ads are great. Truthfully, I am never satisfied with my work and feel that I have no talent. I am not sure what to do now. I've come this far in school and I am not sure if I am really good at it. I really feel that I won't be able to get a job when school's over. I try to believe in myself, but somehow I can't. I really need your advice! Thank you. ~Deterred Dana

To see DEARSUGAR's response,

Dear Deterred Dana --

You can't let one little setback get you down! I bet you won't meet a lot of successful people in this world that have not lost at least one competition in their lives. People who have never lost a contest probably have never entered one. We can learn a lot more from our failures than we can from our successes. Take Michael Jordan, the basketball legend, for example. He was initially cut from his high school basketball team and then went on to become a superstar.

I suggest that you pick yourself up, brush yourself off and get back out there. It sounds like you have not started applying for jobs yet, so don't be so hard on yourself. Start searching the online job boards ( is great for creative jobs), visit your school's career center to find out when companies will be on campus recruiting and send your resume and portfolio to companies you are interested in working for. Before you know it, you will start booking interviews and they will see all you have to offer. This will help you regain your confidence. Think positively, and I wish you good luck!

Join The Conversation
grl-in-the-world grl-in-the-world 10 years
I agree that you should speak with a career councellor at your school. Also, why not speak to your teachers? Ask them where they can see you working after graduation, and if there is an aspect of your schooling you should be concentrating more on. I'm sure there are a lot of people in your course who feel the same as you, and now that you're soon to be entering the workplace, it's normal to feel some anxiety about it. Have some faith in yourself! You've worked hard to get a great education, and it will serve you well. Also, you will most likely be starting out in a position at a company that will offer you a chance to learn and increase your practical skills.
lickety-split lickety-split 10 years
sorry, should read usc, as in university of so cal.
lickety-split lickety-split 10 years
the thing is, there is no "best" in the creative fields. there's pleasing the client and what sells. if your ideas aren't hot today that doesn't mean they won't be tommorow, and if they are hot today it doesn't mean they will be well thought of in 10 years. you just have to remain true to what you think is quality and creative and go from there. what about offering your services to small businesses in your community? create flyers for home based businesses or web sites for a local school or community group. experience will give you some confidence and then if someone doesn't choose your work; oh well, there are certainly other clients. did you know that fedex was a proposal projest for the mba program at ucs? it only got the grade of "B" because to get an "A" the proposal had to be plasuable. so you see, no one knows what the furure holds.
designergirl designergirl 10 years
Wow. I felt like this post could have been written by me. Believe me, I understand. I'm a senior design student. I think its worse when you're in a creative field because you end up putting all of yourself into your work. I have the same problem of putting my self worth into my designs. If it's not good enough, then that means I'm not good enough, and I end up feeling miserable. When I do think this way, I look through all my work and focus on how much my work has developed and grown. Look at what's great about your work and focus on how that makes you happy. Maybe you love your type or your colors or etc... Never stop trying to improve, but try to focus on the positive things, like that next project you're going to do that's going to kick ass. And, comfort yourself by telling yourself that its not a bad thing that you do put yourself completely into you're work because all the best do.
nycgirl nycgirl 10 years
Don't rely on other people to validate you and your self-worth. It will cause 2 problems: 1- you need to believe it in yourself, 2- you might be waiting a long long time. If you are afraid that you're not very good, then figure out how to make yourself better. Do it until you are happy with yourself. It's good that you entered the competition, and I understand it's disappointing that you didn't win. Saying you're not good enough and waiting for other people to argue to the contrary is cowardly. Either you need to accept yourself as the great ad creator thinks you are, or you need to get to work and prove yourself to be that great ad creator. I would also say to try and get this accomplished while you are still in college too (supportive environment, resources for improving your technique, etc). It will be much harder in the 'real world'!
bfly1133 bfly1133 10 years
Thanks andaman! While I do think some people are given certain gifts and abilities...I do agree that you need to work your butt off to get anywhere with it. :)
andaman andaman 10 years
bfly1333 good post :) I like it the bit when you say people say you have talent and you are not sure if you do. I think talent comes with skill. If you are willing to put effort into something long term that's your talent. I believe in hard work not god given talent. I don't think jamie oliver could cook when he was born, he freaking worked his arse off. So he should!
bfly1133 bfly1133 10 years
I could write a book on a fear of failure because that was me at one time in my life. And to be honest, I still have times where I feel like that. So, I may not be an expert but I think I can give a little advice. :) Thomas Edison said he never failed. He just found a 1,000 ways not to make a lightbulb. Think of life in those terms. We will never be perfect and there is no point in stressing ourselves out trying to be. Even the best plan or idea will encounter problems or have faults. Just do your best girl! That is all anyone can do. People say you have talent and I am sure you do. But, if in a couple years things don't work out in advertising you will have the experience to do something better. Take chances and live life to the fullest. The day you realize there is no such thing as perfection the world will feel a little brighter.
SU3 SU3 10 years
Have CONFIDENCE girl! If you love what you are doing and have a passion for it - go for it! I think that's what matters most. If you don't have confidence in yourself - no one will bother to see it either. "Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in RISING every time we fall." [Confucius]
honeysugar28 honeysugar28 10 years
Its scary to actually go out into the world and do what you've been preparing all this time to do. But you've made it through school you've been trained and now you're ready. If you keep telling yourself that you're not going to make it you probably won't. Where there's a will there's a way if we want something there's nothing that can stop us if we really want it. So don't let yourself down and give it your best what you'll really regret in life is if you didn't give it your all because then you'll never know what could've been. I've made this mistake many times throughout my early 20s I told myself I couldn't do it and I didn't now I want to and I have a lot of work ahead of me but I am determined to get there.
andaman andaman 10 years
You are a good student, you are not a failure. Brush up your act and go for it!
andaman andaman 10 years
Afraid of failure has everything to do with "insecurity" and I mean big insecurity problem. Why not getting through a competition is a failure? Ask yourself that question. You took the chance, perfected your work, and totally went for it. Why is that a failure? You let trophies, awards, grades, brand name institutions dictate your definition of failure (probably have done for a long time). Don't be so hard on yourself. If you continue to go through life like this, you will end up being a very unhappy person. You need to sit down and think what makes you happy? Getting a trophy makes you happy? Well you aren't going to be able to win all the time. That's life. You'd better learn to live with it. A failure is someone who doesn't even know what makes him/her truly content, to the point where she/he can't even be kind to him/her self. Afraid of failure is self-harm!
Is It OK to Apply For Multiple Positions at One Company?
Truths About Dating in Your 30s
Brett Eldredge 2017 Interview
How Sleep Can Help Your Career
From Our Partners
Latest Career & Finance
All the Latest From Ryan Reynolds