“Failure is not falling down, but refusing to get back up.”
The Importance of Failure
So the mid-semester break is over, and I am sure that we have all watched a bit too much Netflix and probably done too little study.
Getting back into semester can be exciting, but also terrifying because things are going to be getting tough, fast. That is if they haven't already.
Some of you may have your first university test or assignment in the next couple of weeks, and whether it’s the first time you have done it or the hundredth (as for me), it’s hard not to feel nervous. I don't know about everyone else, but I always feel like I could have studied more or edited my assignment one last time.
It’s tough because we all want to do well, after all, that's why we are here, spending thousands of dollars.
To do well.
But you know what? Life means that sometimes we don't do well and if anything, these moments of failure define us and our future more than our successes, or at least I think so.
Because failure teaches us more, it's a hard pill to swallow, certainly, but definitely a vital one.
From C- to an A+
Allow me to tell a story. Back when I was an innocent first year, I received a 50% mark for my Physics 160 test.
I was gutted.
Now allow me to put some context, first, I was studying Biomedical Sciences, and although I was not applying for Medicine, the pressure of that environment meant that your best never felt good enough.
Second, I was a high achiever in high school, always had been. It was definitely a case of big fish little pond going into little fish enormous pond.
Finally, I worked really hard for that test, and when I say really hard, I mean really hard. I attended all the lectures, studied for hours and did all the practise problems.
I knew the content. But that didn't matter.
What mattered was that I almost failed and I was in tears.
But you know what?
I got an A+ on that paper.
I am not saying this to brag; I wholeheartedly believe that if you are at university, the only thing stopping you from achieving your potential is what you put in and that doesn't change when you do badly.
So what did I do? A few things:
First, I put things into perspective. Was this test the end of the world?
Would I probably care about it in six months time, a year, five years?
Was I getting upset going to change anything?
Were there things I could do to try and avoid the same mistakes?
Second, I meticulously went over my test paper and identified the things I did wrong and worked to avoid repeating the same mistakes in the next paper. For me, that was not managing my time well. So next time I had a test, if there were 50 question in an hour, I designated myself one minute per question. (Actually, 40 seconds, and yes I time myself during tests and exams.)
Third, I went to all the tutorials and asked for help in content that I knew I was weak in.
Fourth, I did loads of practice papers because while this may not be true for all papers, physics, like maths is learned by application and doing. Although honestly, doing practice papers was also helpful for BIOSCI and MEDSCI papers.
Finally, I consistently looked after myself. I slept eight hours a night, ate really well, exercised five times a week and drank lots of water.
Now was this fun?
I am not going to lie to you, no. But in the words of my wise old grandmother, nothing worthwhile is easy.
- Perspective: stay positive, don't be discouraged.
- Identify your weaknesses and make a plan to fix them.
- Ask for help: no one knows you are struggling if you don't tell them.
- Practice, practice, practice.
- Look after yourself.
So if things don't go so great this test and assignment season, and if you don't do as well as you would have hoped. Don't worry, you can always recover.
And a final note, university and your grades do not define you, they are just part of the puzzle.
Bouncing Back from Failure was written by Y.M. from University Confessions. Mental health has always been a problem with the student demographic, which shouldn't be ignored. Together with University Confessions, we hope to make a positive difference.