Which is worse--failure or inactivity?

Whenever I look back on my life and think about my regrets, I recognize a pattern. My regrets are never things that I tried and failed to complete, or times when I made a fool of myself, or even times when I was bitterly—bitterly—rejected. Instead, my biggest regrets are always occasions of wanting to do something, but being too afraid of the if’s, and’s or but’s to even try.

I’m sure that everyone can commiserate on this sad tale—most people regrets don’t stem from failures, but rather the insecurity to even get that potential failure off the ground. Here are a few of my biggest regrets that stemmed from my own inactivity:

I didn’t apply for a fellowship to complete a project in another country because I was too nervous about traveling alone. When I was a senior in high school, my university offered a fellowship for one member of the graduating class to plan a project to be completed internationally. I had an idea that I found really interesting that would take me to Thailand, India and Bulgaria, and I’d planned it rather thoroughly. However, when the time came to actually present my idea to the committee, I’d talked myself out of the possibility, thinking that the countries would be too scary, the project would be too difficult, and I didn’t speak the language anyone.

I didn’t go to journalism camp when I was in high school because I didn’t know anyone. I worked for the yearbook in high school, and was quite serious about becoming its copy editor in my junior year. To better prepare, I’d enrolled in a two-week summer camp at a rural university in my home state. Most of the attendees were enrolled as part of the journalism school at a particular school, but I was planning to go alone. My mother and I drove the long way to the school, but when I got there, I was too intimidated by the swarms of friends who already knew each other to go inside. Instead, I told my mother I wanted to go home.

I didn’t try out for a solo in choir for four years because I didn’t think I was good enough. I didn’t audition because I thought all of the other singers in my university chorale were better than me. Perhaps they were, but I’ll never know for sure now.

What are your biggest regrets? Did they stem from your own inactivity or fear?