Wise words of young University students:

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After rounding some guest bloggers who also dabbled in the same category with nifty social causes, I’ve decided to gather their short stories in their most recent ‘failures’. Keep reading for extremely relatable stories to get you through the day:

Quarter Life Confession: 

I’ve recently failed (many times over) in attempting to acquire an internship. However, through these attempts, I’ve gained a lot of experience in interviewing, online assessments, video interviews, and testing centres. This has enabled me to learn a lot about myself, and the importance of being resilient and never giving up!

Don’t Overthink It:

I failed a job application for a role that I really wanted. People say to think the worst before you find out, but I couldn’t help but stay hopeful. I was pretty crushed when I found out. But we are human, we have feelings. You just have to give yourself some time to get over it but remember that your chance will come if you keep trying. Sometimes life doesn’t go as expected and that’s ok!

Examining Exams:

The last time I failed was in an application for an internship where I had applied for what I thought would be ‘easiest’ department to get into because I felt that I just really needed any vacationer experience. The fact that my heart wasn’t in it was very clear to anyone and I learned that I shouldn’t do things just because others do it too. It’s okay to go at your own pace and direction because it’s better to pursue what you really want (even if it is more difficult!) because it is much more rewarding in the long run!

Switch Off the Stigma:
I recently felt that I failed when I handed in an assessment and when I received the marks I completely missed the mark. It was a blow to my confidence and made me question my ability. But, I’m really determined, and it only made work harder. That’s how I see it. If you fail, it only means you can go up from here. I talk to my tutor and worked things out on how to improve. Don’t take it to heart. Failure is only a part of success! 🙂

Mariana, 26

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I started playing Netball since I was 10 back in the UK. My coach always told me I was great but I didn’t ever really do anything about it. After, she made me try out for the Nationals, and I tried but I didn’t get it. I remember feeling like a total failure at that point, and I gave up and stopped playing shortly after.

However, one day my mum came in and told me that she knew I still really liked it. I had recently also bought a new pair of new netball shoes, but didn’t use it. After hearing my mum say that, I decided to go back and play again. I found a new coach and she gave me a better perspective of my whole experience. I think I had to fail to almost realise how much I liked netball.

So that’s my story. I failed at something I was great at, and it makes me work harder at it now. I play 5 games a week on average now!

Craig, 26

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I picked the wrong subject for Uni for my Bachelor’s degree – Vet science. Ever since I was little I thought I wanted to be a vet, but the dedication you needed to be a vet is really hard work. Shifts were tiring, and sometimes you’d have work in the middle of the night due to an emergency.

Afterwards, I did a Masters in something I actually liked – software engineering. I found out I liked it because whilst studying for my Vet degree I took a statistics course and that’s how I found out about my passion for it.

My lesson for University students? Just because you’ve started doing something you don’t like, doesn’t mean that you’re stuck on it forever.

2 common unhealthy ways used by students to deal with failure

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Surprisingly (or unsurprisingly) for many, when dealing with failure they rarely realise at that point of time that unconsciously they employ self-protective strategies in order to deal with failure. These deflective strategies, defensive pessimism and self-handicapping act by skewing and minimizing one’s ‘true’ level of ability in order to protect self-worth and regulate one’s emotions.

  1. Defensive pessimism is a cognitive strategy used to a alter the meaning of failure by setting exceedingly low expectations for tasks with evaluation. By doing so, students afraid of failing are ‘protected’ and ‘cushioned’ against these anxiety-inducing tasks, and keep one’s expectations in check by minimising the gap between expectations and disappointment.
  2. Self-handicapping similarly alters the meaning of failure, by deflecting the causes of failure away from the students and onto other excuses in order to keep failure from hurting self-esteem. Other reasons for this include self-enhancement and maintaining an image (both for themselves and others). A typical self-handicapping situation would be a student blaming their low exam grade on not having enough time, or not having studied.

Whilst both these strategies may work in the short-term to preserve self -esteem, they have seen to confirm doubts about one’s ability, and can result in downward spirals of mental health. When excuses run out or when you ‘fail’ too many times, students become disengaged from learning. It is also found to be detrimental to student motivation, mental health, academic performance, general adjustment, and behaviour in later life.

Although this post relates these strategies to a student, they’re also found in people of all ages. For those unaware that they’re doing this, hopefully opening your eyes to these strategies make you more self-aware and on the road to stopping.

 

 

Chris, 29

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One of my major failures heading to Uni was heading to Uni and not knowing what my degree was used for. I chose a Bachelor of Science and majored in Mathematics being told that studying a STEM subject would get you a 6 figure salary. Now I’m $20,000 in HECS debt, and doing bar tending. But loving it. I picked up bartending as a part-time job whilst studying for my degree. So I guess without my degree I would’ve probably never found my passion. It was a weird little path, but I guess it cost me a whole degree and HECS to find it. In that regard, I have no regrets going to Uni. It’s just that if I could’ve done it for free whilst finding my passion then that would’ve been ten times better.

I currently work at one of Australia’s best bars, and I plan to go to London or New York later to work and live. My life isn’t a failure per se, but if we had to zoom in back to my younger days that would be one. But hey, look at me now. I’m even studying up on bar-tending right now! Look at this book I’m reading man.

Nicko, 24

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Fear is something which I think is a very misunderstood topic these days, something which we’re forced upon in choosing a direction rather than understanding how it’s there to be used as a good thing for change.

Fear was something that was heavily placed on me as a child, and defined for me what was acceptable or not, what was good or bad. I’m doing engineering right now, I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I chose it, but chose it because it was prestigious, it has status and my mum approved of it. But I didn’t do it because I loved it.

My passion is 2D animation, I want to live in the forest by myself, make my own tree house and have a sustainable life on my own. But society says you can’t do that, and one of my biggest failures would be listening to that and not doing the stuff I love.

I took the year off on my 4th year to face the unknown and explore 2D animation. From that I learnt to just finish my engineering degree not as a back-up plan, but rather, see it positively in that I’ll gain a lot of skills, and do it for self-accomplishment. Ever since thinking about that in that way, it’s changed my perspective on failing.

But going under this experience, I’m still very controlled by fear. Now it’s more about accepting and understanding that it’s there, that it’s shaped my identity, and that I have a choice to integrate my fear of failure with what I have now and change the way I think.

 

Josh, 23

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I use to think that it was my fault for a long time, but after a long time I realised it wasn’t. My mother was in an abusive relationship with her boyfriend, and when everyone left, I stayed thinking I could help her.

I developed depression at that time, and from year 9-10 my schooling was unstable so it was hard to do well in year 11-12. I used to do bartending, but I wanted something more meaningful in my life. At the time I also attended mental health services like Beyond Blue and Headspace, and it helped me a lot. I retook my ATAR test 2 years ago, and now I do psychology. I want to help young adults with mental health issues like the way I was helped.

Coming from all this, it’s taught me that there’s only so much you can put in to try succeed and you can still fail. You take those hits hard, but you don’t let it stop you from progressing further in your life.