The most important lesson I’ve learnt surrounding failure is that what you may perceive as failure in
comparison to other people may be two different things. As individuals we all work based on our personal
aspirations which may or may not be influenced by important people and role models in our lives such as
our parents. Irrespective of where our personal standards stem from, the hit of failure is always a
painful blow. There’s nothing quite as sobering as the bitter taste of disappointment when you haven’t
achieved the results you want. When it comes down to it we all want to succeed and let’s face it –
academia isn’t just about ‘the experience’; we all want something tangible to represent our hard
So what do you do when you didn’t quite hit the mark you were expecting to? The first reaction is
probably to weep a bit or scream into your pillow. When you care about something enough, it’s perfectly
fine to be a little bit emotional because you’re passionate about it. However, don’t entertain this
stage too long otherwise you’ll end up feeling sorry for yourself a lot longer than will be beneficial
to your life. Try to surround yourself with supportive, encouraging people who are not going to make you
feel any worse about not getting the grades you want.
Secondly, this is a fantastic opportunity to reflect. Really stew over what you did well and what you
could have done better. This is usually the ‘eureka’ moment where you realise you either should have
spent less time on those extracurriculars or spent more time in your teacher’s office hours! Regardless,
the moment you realise your downfalls in that period you’re already back on the track of success. In one
of my AS Economic exams I requested to have my exam paper back when I felt like I’d let myself down in
terms of my grades. After looking over the paper with my teacher I quickly realised that I had
misinterpreted the questions on two of the 8-mark questions. Had I actually taken the time to really
comprehend what the question was asking me, I would have been absolutely fine.
This brings me on to my third point: failure is an excellent learning curve. As soon as you realise that, you’re winning. From the time I realised I skimmed over information too quickly in exams, I automatically started slowing myself down for all my exams and I reaped the benefits from this. A lot of resilience and determination can be taken from a downfall when you stop seeing a situation as cataclysmic and focus on what you can learn. This applies especially when you realise that failing isn’t actually the end of the world and the most of successful people have once been in your shoes.
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