Tim Gittos

I'm an Australian currently living in Austin, TX in the USA.

I currently earn a living programming, though I wouldn't call myself a programmer. If I had to attach a label to myself, I'd use the term autodidact.

I love learning, and my favorite things to learn about are programming, computer graphics, AI & machine learning, robotics, painting and creativity.

Nobody Cares So Don't Worry About Screwing Up

Last updated on 06 Feb 2014

Often, people won’t start something because they’re afraid of screwing up. They’re afraid that if they try and fail, people will mock them and criticize them. These are unpleasant events and so they’ll do everything to avoid them including not starting at all.

Other times, as is the case with me, this can manifest as a fear of success. I feel very uncomfortable in any kind of spotlight as I’m constantly fearful of criticism and confrontational interactions. I worry about the things I’m doing becoming successful because success might draw a spotlight which might draw these negative interactions I fear.

If these fears resonate with you, this is something that will hold you back. But there is good news – it’s something that is simple (but not easy) to combat.

When was the last time you really cared about a stranger’s failure? Assuming you’ve noticed it at all? You probably can’t remember. You’ll be able to remember when someone failed at something you had a stake in, but for something that is totally foreign to you, you probably can’t remember.

The truth is is that it’s hard to get people to care about anything, period. Entire industries are built around the art of getting people to notice and care about something. If it’s so hard to get someone to care about something you want them to care about, what are the chances that they’ll care about something you don’t want them to?

Even if they do notice your screw up, and even if they criticize or mock you, that interaction usually goes one of two ways:

1. They forget about you entirely and utterly, and it doesn’t matter
2. They dwell on it, and you get to live rent free in their mind.

#1 is more likely, but hope for #2 – because you’ll have their attention and they’ll care about what you’re doing. This gives you an opportunity to improve their opinion of you and win them over. It’s like the saying goes: “There’s no such thing as bad publicity.” You’ll never win everyone over, nor should you try, but as long as someone hasn’t made it obvious you can’t change their mind, you can keep trying to change their mind!

So if you’re worried about what people will say when you screw something up, remember you’ll be lucky if anyone even notices – most likely it will disappear in the sands of time.