Facing Failure

As the new semester rolls on, I have found myself in classes where I have little experience or knowledge about the subject. As a hesitant person by nature, I have to overthink every possible outcome before I can jump into a situation. This risk-avoidance has developed stronger over the years, possibly because I have witnessed more negative outcomes the older I get. Therefore, taking classes that I could struggle in, embarrass myself, or even fail at would be something I shy away from. And yet, here I am.

I’ve come to the point in my college experience, and just life experience, that while I understand and fear the risks, I know that they are the reason people succeed, not fail. By breaking down everything I am afraid of, I can digest the hesitation and continue pushing through it.

For example, if I fear that I will struggle in an unknown subject I can tell myself that there will be help, always. College campuses and even college towns have so many tutors, study groups, and places to seek aid. Not only that, but with an opportunistic mindset, I can convince myself that I will meet others like myself who struggle with the same concepts. With this bond between us, a friendship is sure to develop, and suddenly my new friend and I can conquer the tortures algebra together!

If I fear that by facing the unknown I will embarrass myself in the process, I find myself a little embarrassed that I would think this way. As someone who has an ingrained focus on strategic thinking and learning, I know that there is no such thing as a dumb question. The fact that one is curious enough to inquire about a subject they aren’t familiar enough already points them to success. And although there are some professors who have an unconscious tendency to belittle or speak condescendingly to a student over a question or answer, it doesn’t mean that what you’ve said or done is embarrassing. From my experiences, even in class sizes of 15 or less, the other students are scrolling through Facebook or daydreaming about their weekend instead of laughing at you. Never feel self-conscious when you’re just going above and beyond in the self-care department. Learning is self-care, after all.

And lastly, if I fear failure, then I’m doing it right. Because if you’re not failing every now and again, you aren’t learning. Re-frame your failures as learning experiences, and you will never truly fail at something.

This semester, I am hoping to challenge myself, and stretch myself further than before. Is it more stressful and demanding? Of course. But am I learning and growing faster and stronger than I have in the past? That’s the goal.

I hope you take some sort of step or leap into a scary abyss in your life. Even if it looks dark and intimidating now, once you start pushing through, you might discover a whole new world and a place of rainbow streamers. Who knows?

Best,

Madeleine

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