Second Year Vibes: The Weight of Failure

Illustration by Nicole Freewalt

Anna-Catherine Kueng ~ Assistant Editor

    If you are a college student, you know the sinking feeling you get when you have received a bad grade. Whether you are logging in to look at Turnitin or Moodle, or you are given back your assignment in class, it can feel like not only is your work is a failure, but you are too. 

     Nobody likes to fail in life. When you were a child, and you fell off the bike you were attempting to ride without training wheels, you likely got upset. This miserable feeling carries on throughout your life. When you are a child, you might fail at trivial things, like losing a game of Uno. But, as you grow up, you feel like a failure when you do not get the job promotion or when everyone around you is in a happy relationship except for you. 

     Failure creeps into all areas of our lives. It appears in the workplace, in the classroom, and in the home. For some people, failure motivates them to try harder and to do better next time, while others can fall into a sense of hopelessness. When you fail at something you worked hard at, it is easy to wonder where you can go from there.
    We often let ourselves be defined by our failures or our successes, but that is not healthy. It may be okay to do that when you are succeeding, but what happens when you do mess up (and that is bound to happen)? Where do you find your worth then? 

     Last week, I received a bad grade on a paper I had worked on for an entire weekend. I was so upset and felt like I was stupid to have made certain mistakes that should have been obvious to me. It really affected my mood until I started listening to Christmas songs (yes, I am one of those people that listen to Christmas music before December). While listening to “Silent Night,” it reminded me of memories on Christmas Eve, gathered around the Christmas tree with my family, and lighting candles at my church’s evening service. 

     It was in that moment that I realized my worth is not dependent upon my grades on essays or any other school assignments. When December 25 rolls around, and I am in the arms of my loved ones, they are not going to be looking at me thinking about what my GPA is or how well I did this semester. They are going to be proud of me simply because they love me and value me as a person. When it is New Year’s Day, and 2020 arrives while I am at the beach, I am not going to be remembering all of my grades from the prior year. I am going to be focusing on the exciting things to come. 

     I am not saying that you should not care about your grades, because they are important, but I am begging you: do not find your worth in your academic performance. There is so much more to life than these four years at college. If you have failed this week, please do not give yourself such a hard time. Just remember that you are loved, and that is a label no failure can change. 


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