Saturday, 14 September 2013

Does Failing Make You Stronger?

Just a warning to readers, this post made me feel depressed while writing it so I'm going to guess it may make you depressed to read it.

I'm guessing you've heard of the saying that 'what doesn't kill you makes you stronger'.

I've had people telling me this way too many times. And that's because failure and I are well acquainted.

I failed to achieve the grades I was originally predicted in secondary school. And then I failed my first year of college and had to join another college. I then failed to get the grades I needed for university but by some stupidly divine luck, I managed to get onto a Law degree. And now, I may have failed Law school.

So yeah, I've gone through a lot of failure. Include my failure to get a job which is like the cherry on the icing.

This got me thinking of whether failure was making me stronger.

My failures in secondary school and college could have made me stronger. One thing those failures did was bring me back down to earth. My standards in everything dropped after that failure. Suddenly, my ridiculously high standards were no longer getting me down. And that was great. For a time.

But they also damaged my confidence and self-esteem. And during that time, I battled with really bad anxiety problems and apparently depression.

So the way I see it, no, I did not get stronger from failure. But I did get up and not for reasons that you may think.

As an Asian woman, my options were very limited:
1) get an education and a skilled and respected job or
2) get married and have kids.

Being only 20, option 2 did not appeal to me and so I decided to venture into university. Plus, I had no clue where I wanted to go in life. Nor did I know what I wanted to do with it. So naturally, Law school felt like a good option.

Law school is always a good option. Or at least that's what I thought. It's a good degree to have and it is one of those degrees that is very well respected. So I thought I was doing a good thing.

And now I'm here.

I failed a module in my first year. Yes. I failed one module and because of it, I may fail the whole thing altogether.

I remember being over the moon this time last year when I was chuffed to be going to university. I was excited and thought it would be the best time of my life ever. But my problems with anxiety did not get better. I had to spend a whole year trying to deal with it and because I was so behind with uni work, I didn't have time to go see the counsellor who was busy and struggled to fit me into his schedule. So I didn't go to my sessions. I had tutorial work to complete anyway.

And I never told anyone about my problems. If there is one major thing I have learnt from this experience, it is that my previous failures and problems taught me nothing. I have continued my self-destructive behaviour of not admitting my problems and asking for help into adulthood.

It is only half a month until I am due to go back to university for my second year and I still don't know what I got for my first year. I don't even know if I'm going. And if I'm not going, I have no idea what to do instead. I'll be back to square one. No, I'll be back to square zero. At least when you're on square one, you're going somewhere and are on a path.

And this may be my last post as a university student. Which sucks. University has been a better experience than school and college.

On the outside, I appeared to have gotten stronger but inside, I feel weaker.

I think people react differently to failure. It may be motivation for some people to get back up again. For some people it may be a disaster and yet they'll get back up again, not due to being stronger. And for some people it'll crush them like a mountain and they won't get back up. I feel like I'm between group 2 and 3.

I'll end the post here but I'll update again as soon as I can on whether or not I get into university. I hope I do. *fingers crossed*

Kamille :D


  1. I think this post took a lot for you to write, and also that you should be proud of it.

    Yet I also think you may be wrong about something.

    Maintaining this blog is not the sign of someone destined for failure. It shows perseverance, patience, creativity, and dedication. In addition, the fact that you have been able to reflect on some of the things that haven't gone the way you wanted to in life indicates sound progress.

    In reality we are all failing. Whilst we are working we are failing to spend time with those that mean the most to us. When we're relaxing with family, perhaps we're failing to do some of the work we should be completing. When we're anxious we're failing to make the most of life's opportunities, when we're care-free maybe we're failing to recognise potential hazards etc.

    Life is a balancing act, and even the most "successful" people have strings of "failures" behind them. I failed my 11+ exam, and had to go to a different school, and now 7 years later I'm at Oxford. I had to switch AS classes because I found Chemistry difficult and stressful, so caught up with Theology & Ethics A-level, over a term in (I think some of your resources really helped me here!).

    I failed one of my mock A-level exams, so I had to work really hard, and ended up with an A, months later.

    Failure is the inability to be self-aware, or, equally, failure is to be self-obsessed. Now, I don't know you personally, but from what I've seen, you don't come across as either of these things.

    Chin up, cross bridges when you come to them, you never know, it might never happen, and if it does, clearly things were supposed to work out in a way that you'd never have anticipated!

    1. Thank you for the lovely post! I have to say it's one of the loveliest comments I've gotten on here!

      I think you may be right. Maybe I just need some success to balance out the failure haha! Although I do have to sat that I've not been great at posting regularly since starting university.

      Congratulations at getting into Oxford! I hope it goes well! :D

  2. I hope you get back into law school, because it seems to be something you want to do. Feeling like a failure is not good; you're not a failure as a person just because you didn't pass a test. If you don't get back in, you'll just move on with your life. Allow yourself to feel bad for a day or two, then reassess your options. You might just find yourself doing something else that you really want to do (writing or maybe a different university program).

    1. Thank you! I just found out that I've passed! And yeah Law is something I like doing!

  3. First off, so, so sorry that you're struggling with feelings of failure right now. I can relate far too well. (I dropped out of college, still haven't found a job, etc.) I can see how your confidence would be shaken after all this, since mine pretty much is, too. It can be hard to stay motivated sometimes without a few successes mixed in with the failures, no matter how small. I'll keep my fingers crossed that you're able to continue on with university, especially since you seem to enjoy the experience so much! Square Zero definitely wouldn't be a fun place to be...

    1. Thank you!

      I hope you find a path to follow soon.

      It's a shame motivation can't be bought!


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