While this article is aimed specifically at students, it is applicable to anyone who frequently feels like they are failing at something. Hey we’ve all been there!
On the 17th of June 2019 at 8 am, I received the results of my third-year exams and I passed everything.
The night before in my mind I had failed three classes. I could just feel it in my bones.
I was there, I sat those exams, I remember.
I was going to have to repeat in August. I was going to have to find €513 by the end of the month to pay for those repeats, I just knew it and I couldn’t be told differently.
I am not psychic, I’m sure you guessed that much and if I could read my lecturer’s minds, I’d never have to fear failing anything again.
This is why they call it catastrophizing.
Feeling like you failed is not the same as failing.
My gut can be wrong and that can be a good thing.
How to be a hard worker
As somebody with anxiety, I can’t always trust my intuition.
If the stakes are high it can be like a constant alarm going off in my head.
If I always listened to the alarm, I would never see the danger coming.
As I said in my book review of The Anxiety Journal, my anxiety can be a motivator and it is one of the reasons I work so hard.
That’s not To say there are no other reasons. I know what it’s like to not be able to find a job. I love what I study and what I write.
I have people who support me and who I want to make proud.
I feel lucky to live in a country where I have access to education without incurring damaging amounts of debt. I honour that by working hard.
But I also worry that my hard work is not enough.
And it’s perfectly normal to feel like that, we have been trained our whole lives for it.
You have to work harder, better and enough is never enough.
Yeah, But What if…
When I sat my exams, I had a plan. I made a grid and divided my days into topics.
I considered what kind of exam I was sitting and created strategies that best suited the exam.
My strategies are ones I found worked for me in my first year and I have stuck with them.
I don’t rely on just hard work and hope.
I also rely on planning, my knowledge and experience.
You have those too.
Even as I was freaking myself out, I knew that.
All the Difference
I can hear you now, ( still not a mind reader) that’s lovely Shannon but it’s just not that simple.
You are right! I’m sorry to tell you the solution won’t be found in any blog post and I don’t have all the answers.
Here’s what I do know:
- Thinking something does not make it a reality.
- Just because you can’t do it today, doesn’t mean you won’t be able tomorrow.
- Trying your best is half the battle.
- Everybody needs help and nobody succeeds on their own.
- Tomorrow is another day if you let it be.
Believing that you have succeeded takes practice.
Believing you failed is easy.
I practice every day. I listen over the alarm and some days I feel like I failed.
But feeling like you failed, does not make it so.
Breaking it Down
Before I went to bed I had a think about the conversation I was having with myself.
What evidence did I have for what I was thinking?
Is there evidence to the contrary?
Last year when I was getting my results did I feel like this?
In fact, last year I had one exam when I finished somebody called me and asked how I got on and I said, the only way I passed that exam is if they get my paper mixed up with someone else.
It wasn’t true because, in addition to me not being a mind reader, I also can’t tell the future.
You and I also need to re-examine this idea of enough is never enough.
What is your goal in this do you need an A1? If so why?
Is it just because other people say you need to be the best or perfect?
I was always taught that no matter what, always aim to improve.
I’m not saying don’t but if you do, do it because it’s important to you.
Maintaining is also not a failure.
Anxiety may be normal but it is really difficult to contradict because there is no evidence for or against what you are thinking.
But if you can break down and examine your thought patterns and ask yourself questions, you can fight back against it.
Remember thinking something doesn’t make it real.
Just because someone else said it doesn’t make it true.
Feeling like you have failed is not the same as failing.
Until next time,