UC Student Blogger | Learning to respond to fear of failure

Receiving your exam results might be a cause for celebration, or a chance to reflect and think about your next steps. There is a range of support on offer for students, including practical steps you can take if your grades were not what you were expecting.

UC student blogger gives their personal experience of addressing their feeling of failure and how to manage this as part of your journey to success. 

“Everyone has experienced failure at some point in their lives whether they’re open about it or not. When I failed a paper in my first year of university, I thought I’d never get over it and that it was going to ruin the rest of my time at university. But over time I learnt to accept and let go of the feeling of failure I used to feel every time I saw the big ‘D’ on my grade page. Of course, learning is never linear, and it won’t happen overnight, but here are a few things to remember as well as some resources to check out that might help you on your own personal journey of managing the fear of failure at university.

Failing is part of learning. 

First of all, failing is hard. At best it can be uncomfortable and at worst it can be painful. It can lead to questioning yourself and your abilities, a lot of self-doubt and feeling like you’re not good enough. However, something people often forget is that failure is a huge part of the learning process. The important thing about managing the fear of failure at university is remembering that everyone struggles with failure at some point, regardless if it’s at university or sometime later in life. Some of the most successful and inspirational leaders of our time – like Barack Obama for example! – have struggled with failure. It’s how you learn from failure that’s important.

Learning how to respond to it can be an important part of success.

Responding to the fear of failure is hard for everyone and can sometimes feel impossible. The trick is to break up responding to it in small, simple steps! Firstly, sit down and write a list. What have you learnt from this experience? What would you do differently next time? What do you need to work on in the future? Answering these questions will help you give insight into what your next steps should be.

There is also a huge variety of support that can be found at UC for free that you should definitely take advantage of:

  • The Academic Skills Centre offers free workshops on everything academic from essay writing, note taking and exam preparation skills. And if you think you need some one-on-one time with an expert that can look over some of your work with fresh eyes, you can book a free 40-minute appointment with a learning advisor at Academic Skills as well!
  • Student Care offers free counselling services that are definitely worth checking out if the fear of failure is taking up a lot of mental space and you just want to talk to someone about it.
  • Student Advisors are on hand if you’re struggling with your courses or degree, and you need some expert advice on what a better fit for you and your interests could be.

Failure and defeat are not the same thing – keep your learning progress in context.

It’s important to keep in mind that failing isn’t the end of the world. Treat failure as a learning experience, no matter how uncomfortable it feels, and don’t let it defeat you! Also try and remember that getting over the fear of failure doesn’t happen overnight and will take some time. Cut yourself some slack and keep chipping away at the small things you can do to learn from the experience which you’ll benefit from in the future!”

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