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Mar 31 2017
by Jamie Su

How I'm Climbing Back Up After Failure In University

By Jamie Su - Mar 31 2017

Failure — it's something we're taught not to do. We live in a world where the education system has taught us one rule: that we cannot fail, that we are not allowed to fail. 

When I started my first term of university during the fall, it was difficult adjusting to this completely different lifestyle away from home. Getting used to the fast-paced, stressful and competitive environment was nerve wracking and took a toll on my overall mental health. There were countless breakdowns as I was consumed with fear about how I'd make new friends and whether I'd be kicked out of my program.

University is like a full-time job; combined with many other things to balance like extracurricular activities and a social life, it can be extremely stressful. You get more stressed about the neverending due dates for assignments and weekly tests. It's like swimming in an ocean for hours while you're trying to stay afloat. 

During my first term, I envied those who were having a blast at school and having an active social life while still being able to maintain decent grades. As I was in a larger school with more students compared to high school, I doubted myself and wondered if I'd ever be considered a "smart" and "successful" student.

It's sad to admit, but my anxiety had hit an all-new high and deep down, I knew that I was unhappy and miserable.

But that changed in my second term of university with support and guidance from family and friends. I was able to pick myself up, and it all started with learning how to accept failure and having a fresh and brand new mindset.

Even though school is a priority, it shouldn't be your sole focus because it'd just take a toll on your mental well-being.

Remember, people's judgments don't matter; only your opinion of yourself matters. Although I still consistently compare myself to others and feel inferior, I'm slowly trying to find ways to focus on myself and my own journey to success without worrying about other people's opinions and without feeling pressured.

Sometimes, people just need a break to figure out what they want. And that's OK.

As cliché as finding yourself sounds, it's something that we all need to put into practice. Though others may have known since the beginning about what they wanted to do, each individual is different. Many people I know have switched programs, and others are as lost as I am; they question their capabilities and why they're in the program that they chose. The first year of university or college is about figuring out what you like and is a process in university that everyone goes through, which is nothing to be afraid of. 

It may feel like the end of the world, but it isn't: there are always options and alternatives out there — whether you have to change your program, drop a course or two, take a gap year or take a term off. 

I still have those days where I feel dejected and question my self-worth, but I'm taking baby steps to get rid of that negative mindset.

Through my journey of climbing up after failure, I've realized that no one is weak because they've failed. Failures do not make up a person in life and YOU are worth more than your failures, disappointments and setbacks. 

What we can do with failure, however, is use it as a positive learning experience to improve in the future, as well as remember that failure is not worth beating yourself over.

Remember, it's entirely OK to fail because we. Are. Human.

Lead Image Credit: Dino Reichmuth via Pixabay

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Jamie Su - University of Waterloo

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