I’m generally and specifically afraid of failure. Less for the failure itself and more for what I fear it says about me. Tonight I’m visiting a social club for the second time in a year, when once I was there every Thursday, if not more often.

Last year I did the club a great disservice, and I won’t blame it on depression or anxiety or any other emotional state. I didn’t do what was expected of me, and I unintentionally left a lot of work for the leaders who would come after me. I’m honestly afraid to go back tonight, knees shaking and stomach too tight to eat anything beforehand. Many people will welcome me and there will be handshakes all around, but I genuinely feel that any interaction that is less than extraordinarily positive will hit me as if a physical slap in the face.

I’m literally sitting outside a small cafe, shaking. Rather than going and attending a communal dinner, where I would interact with others socially, I’m sitting in the cold, not looking forward but determined to attend our monthly meeting, mainly because I know how important this month’s business is. Even though I was relieved of my duties with the changing year, I still feel like what little I have been responsible for this year hasn’t been up to par.

The genuine feeling eating at me is that I don’t believe there’s anything positive I can contribute to the group, to the organization, and I truly fear that many older members will see my inclusion, in any capacity, with derision and displeasure.

There was a man in our organization who, to this day, is remembered for his commanding performance of our rites and ceremonies. He is able to carry a meeting in a way few others can, largely on the back of his very impressive memory. The trouble is, I see his face when someone compliments his skill and know that he hates it – years ago he confided to me that he wants to be remembered as a leader, not just someone with a good memory.

Each of us only has so much control over how others think of or remember us. Ours may be a mjority of the influence, but it isn’t total. My fear is that the group and its members see me, remember me, not for any positive influence or contributions, but rather as a failure and someone who let them all down.

In a few minutes I have to stand up and walk into that building, as I have literally a thousand times before, but now with a fear and uncertainty that never used to trouble my steps.

I feel like I don’t belong with them, for a variety of reasons, but chiefly that in a group whose purpose is self-improvement, I think I’ve let everyone down with my weakness of character and failure to fulfill my commitments; stains that I really can’t see fading any time soon.