Failure feels the worst. Just the word alone sounds downcast and awkward coming out of your mouth. Yet everyone fails, and and I mean everyone. The fact is, failure is a necessary component of achieving meaningful success. Otherwise, being successful would feel meaningless because you never knew what it felt like to be anything but. The best thing you can do when thing you can do when it occurs, because it will, is grow from it.
The first mistake people make when they fail is shutting down way too fast. Most failures are just mistakes, and most mistakes are salvageable. Sometimes things just happen. Your professors are human beings too (gasp) and if you contact them right away and explain what happened you may be offered a second chance. At the very least, reaching out to a professor after a poor assignment lets them know that you care about doing well.
Put it Down
So you’ve done the best you can at damage control, good, now put it away. Distance yourself physically, go for a car ride or visit a friend. Distance yourself mentally, play a video game or read a really engrossing book. Separating yourself from the failure can help you gain control of your emotions.
Examine the Source
When you’re back in a good headspace, you need to learn what went wrong. Sometimes you already know the answer. If you opted to spend more time updating your Snapchat than updating your notes for the exam, your study habits are at fault. However, not every problem is as obvious as Elle Woods going to law school to chase her uninterested ex-boyfriend. Did you misunderstand instructions? Did events in your personal life distract you? Is the class too difficult to add on your schedule right now? Narrow the problem down.
Learn and Try Again
Once you know the source of your mistake, develop a plan to avoid falling into the same failure again. Reach out to your professor to get an idea of what needs to be improved, meet with your advisor to discuss a course of action, make a step-by-step plan of how to get back on track. Then try again. It’s important to grow a thick skin to failure and learn how to overcome it. Every time you fail you adapt into a new version of yourself that knows better. Harness that and use it to your advantage.
That being said, failure just feels plain rotten and that’s okay. It’s important to know that just because you have experienced a failure, that doesn’t mean you are a failure. If thoughts of failure start to affect your daily life reach out to Counseling and Psychological Services in H&K room 102 or by telephone at 402.554.2409.
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