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How to deal with failure (from someone who’s failed at a lot)

There’s not a person alive today (probably an exaggeration but it was a good opening line) who hasn’t failed at something. As renowned musical genius Hannah Montana once wrote: “Everybody makes mistakes, Everybody has those days”. Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard two years after entering, whilst Matt Leblanc had three failed TV series before Friends. True, Bill Gates dropped out to found Microsoft which was probably a good idea considering his current net worth, but I’m sure he’s had a setback at some point…maybe…

The point is, however scary failing at something you’ve put everything into can be, other people have been through it before and are the proof you might need that things will be okay. And however awful things seem at the moment, (shout out to the medicine exam I failed three times before switching courses), there are steps you can take to make it slightly easier.

Here is my five-step guide to getting back to the QUEEN you know you can be.

Let Yourself be Upset

There is no point pretending to yourself that you don’t care. This is something you worked hard for, potentially for a long period of time, and it didn’t work out. Hiding feelings of disappointment or anger from yourself will only make it harder to get past this incident in the long run. I’m not saying you need to throw yourself a pity party and invite all your friends, but acknowledge these feelings as much as you can.

Important: this stage of self-pity with no other distractions should only last for a couple of days to a week, MAX. Of course, you may be upset for longer than this, but after a week, crying into a pint of ice cream about how its all over, only becomes counter-productive.

Make a Short-Term Plan

This doesn’t have to be something you want to do forever, or even something hugely proactive, but you need something else to focus on to distract yourself. If you’ve dropped out of uni for example, you need to find a way to become financially stable whilst you work out what to do next. This could take the form of moving back in with your parents, or, my method of choosing: working twelve hour shifts at a restaurant until you’ve forgotten what a social life feels like. For something less extreme, like failing a test, look at how you can get your grades back to where you need them to be; could you work harder on a different module to make it up?

Get Support

If you’re anything like my flatmate, who’s favourite phrase is “I’m fine” (no Ellie, you’ve stood on a wine glass and are bleeding all over my floor, you are not “fine”), you might find it hard to ask people for help. If you feel able to discuss how you feel, or your options with somebody, that’s brilliant, otherwise use your friends to support yourself. Spend time with them as a distraction from how you feel, or take note of how your most successful friend, that one who gyms every day and actually has an internship lined up, deals with difficulties. Then, ask them to help you do the same.

Make a Long-Term Plan

This step is slightly insignificant for those of you who have failed at something small, or easily solved by the short-term plan. However, it is the most important if you’ve failed something like, say, first year uni (it was ONE EXAM LET ME BACK IN) (it’s fine, I’m fine). So, your first attempt failed. If there is any way of repeating it, prepare differently. Get in touch with other people who have managed the task and find out what they did. Then do the same. But do it more, so that you manage it better. If you have failed for good, say you failed you dream job interview, then you need to re-evaluate your goals. Focus on something else that interests you, or a different company offering the same role, and work out what else you can do it improve your CV before applying again. This is the time when you need to be harsh with yourself and work on self-improvement. Or watch a lot of Netflix and cry, I won’t judge, and I recommend Altered Carbon.

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