It's Okay to Fail
Between advanced math and science classes starting in seventh grade, honors and AP courses all throughout high school, and doing well in all of them, I have always thought of myself as a good student. I also finished sixth in my class and have always prided myself in my work and intellect. Well... until I didn’t.
My first semester at college was incredible. I made a lot of friends, got involved in my community, and I did well in all of my classes. I wasn’t homesick, which I felt guilty about, but I was in a good place and feeling happy. The spring semester rolled around, and to my surprise, I started falling behind. My depression was manifesting in a new way that I didn’t know how to manage. Doing what I thought I only could, I ended the semester failing one class, and getting Cs and Bs in the others. I was devastated. I had never received marks like this before and really didn’t know how to handle them. Fast forward to Fall 2019, and I found myself struggling again. I failed two more classes, both of which were for my major at the time. One was actually marked as a “No-Show Fail” because I was too ashamed to even show up anymore.
The main problem was having no motivation. I physically could not bring myself to do anything, even though I knew I needed to. When I did manage to get myself up and out of my dorm, I had a very difficult time concentrating on the work in front of me, and I had let everything pile up to the point where it felt like I was suffocating. The amount of work I had to catch up on just wasn’t possible given the small time frame I had left of the semester. Every late or missed assignment added another weight of embarrassment and guilt to my shoulders. I was too stubborn to ask for help and admit that I was having a hard time.
You’re probably wondering, What exactly is the point of this post? There are a few points I want to make with this. The first being that it’s okay to fail. It’s okay not to be okay. Life is a constant up and down cycle of learning how to handle the new curveballs it throws at you, whether they be new symptoms due to your mental illness, changes in relationships, loss of loved ones, etc. The list is never-ending. As cliché as it sounds, life is a balancing act, and sometimes you’ll fall, and that’s perfectly fine. You don’t have to be perfect, nor should you ever feel ashamed of failing, because it happens to everyone, one way or another.
The other main point of this is to take little steps. This semester I changed my major, and I found that it has helped tremendously. Even so, I struggle with procrastination just like anyone else, but I watch it especially carefully when paired with my depression. I can’t allow myself to fall into that cycle of low motivation and embarrassment, which makes the motivation lower and lower as the work piles higher and higher. It’s important to do what you can and to seek help before it’s too late. Talk to your professors, be transparent and honest with them, see a counselor, confide in friends and family, try journaling. Having an outlet is extremely important. I know it’s easier said than done to just get out of bed in the morning, or to just go do the work. I found it helpful to set small goals, do some work and then maybe more after finishing a little chunk. Once you get started, it’s easier to keep that momentum going. Just like you learn in physics, it’s harder to get the ball rolling than it is to keep it rolling.
So, what are you waiting for? Go start that first push, and see how far you can go.
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