Date posted: July 1, 2008


Oh shame on you!!!
What were you thinking?
Did you actually think we were talking about that f-word?
I am talking about FAILING as in failure!

When it comes to the fear of failing, most people have those nightmares where they walk out in the street naked or where they wear mismatched pairs of socks and shoes. In my case, I am literally allergic to the thought. No! I am neither super human nor super conceited; I simply believe that I have consumed my predestined stock of failure that now I have nothing left but success. Among a multitude of mega f***-ups those stood out: at school and in college, I messed up many presentations by either blushing or stuttering and I learned how your knees could move funny when you were really scared. On my first day as an instructor at AUC, I stumbled on some electric device and landed face down in front of my 20 students. Through out my career in tourism … no I do not want to expose that part just now and I will spare you my emotional escapades.

I was an outcast as a kid, a nerd as a teenager, and a freak in my twenties, but since I hit thirty my life took a very different turn; I learnt how to be happy, popular, and successful. I still have nightmares though … I fear waking up one morning to find myself back in my original shoes. I drown my fears in self talk, positive talk, and blah blah talk. In my head, I blocked all the negative images associated with failure and I consciously decided to summon success and achievement … but here comes my friend waving from a distance the damn flagged F-word. Why would she even bring it up? Why did she have to suggest it?

The symptoms of my allergy did not take long to erupt; bad sleep, sulking for no good reason, an insatiable need for chocolate, thinking of my last three exes (is it payback time?), trying to plead with God (a puppy look that says: please look at me .. I have been good), and avoiding any sort of confrontation. Yes … I am scared. My mom used to tell me that Arabic proverb that says that there comes a time for every bird that soared high to stoop low. Then I remember the product life cycle that I teach every semester and how every product goes into a decline phase after maturity. I also think of all the "birds" that I have seen flying then witnessed their downfall. I would remember Aristotle's definition of tragic heroes and how one fatal flaw brings on their downfall. Until I eventually shun away those thoughts with a nice shower or a heavy meal.

I cannot talk about my allergy to anyone; they would immediately think that I am tooting my own horn or that I am fishing for a complement. A friend once called me a pessimist and that I am not … certainly not! Another friend sent me an ego-boosting email and another sang my praises. What no one gave me was an antidote to my allergy … or a failure-proof vest. I do not need kind words; I need a guarantee that it will last … that it will never be taken away from me … that I will never relapse into that stuttering monotonous pathetic figure that haunted my childhood and teens.

He called me today. I stared at his name flashing on my phone but I could not pick up. I was afraid of him. Talking to him or seeing him irritates my allergy. Why? Because one day he was so big … he said he was bigger than life itself. He was a genius child and a brilliant teenager. His talent flew him around the world and earned him coveted accolades. Today he is forgotten. He is trying to hold on to his past glory and the leftovers of his talent. No one wants him. His light went out … he is so dim … he scares me. He smells like death – still and stagnant like death. The last time I saw him, I heard nothing of his words … I could no longer hear him talk about how it used to be or how he used to be. I watched his posture. He looked as though he is defying a certain gravity that is trying to bury him – or humble him. He seemed so short … was he shrinking? I could not hear his defeated voice trying to hang on to my allergic self. I let him down.

On MSN – Another Friday morning

My friend: You are lucky … I mean it … I have never seen anyone with your luck
Me: I worked hard for everything that I have
My friend: Come on … look at how coincidence keeps holding your hand … how many people do you know have such karma?
Me: (Trying to think) A lot
My friend: Do you have any unfulfilled dreams?
Me: (Trying to think) A lot
My friend: What dreams? You dreamed of a home and you made it. You wanted to retire before the age of 35 and you did it. You wanted a steady income with the least effort and you have it. You wanted to become a writer and you are. You shift careers and men and manage to come out a winner all the time … tell me you are not lucky.
Me: (I am allergic to the F-word) … I am very lucky.

(I log out)

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