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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at PSU chapter.

When I first got to college, I had no idea what to expect.

I knew that it was undoubtedly going to be more work, require much more effort than high school, and be increasingly challenging. However, what I didn’t take into account at the time were the implications of being so stressed out that you cry, study until 3 a.m. and sometimes still barely pass or fail countless quizzes and exams. 

As someone who considers myself to be a perfectionist, this was extremely frustrating and hard to deal with. I slowly learned over the course of my first two years of college how to remedy this the best that I could.

Unfortunately this meant studying weeks in advance, spending an immense amount of time and energy on learning my material, practicing until I was so sick of what I was learning I just couldn’t wait until the exam was over. While this downright kind of sucks, it does work. Most of the time. 

There are still times when my methods don’t work out for me and I still don’t do as well as I was hoping. This is so frustrating to me and I wish that I could care just a little bit less, but I, like many others, simply cannot.

I am very “Type A,” as people like to say. I care about school, my grades, my GPA and overall wish to succeed in everything I do. 

Expecting perfect grades became such an issue for me that I’ve had trouble sleeping and was never able to let things go or enjoy my time at college. I have been doing some serious contemplation for the past six months in order to change my mindset and have heard a few things that have been life changing. 

For anyone in college who is struggling with perfectionism, starting to apply to internships, various positions and jobs or just gets down on themselves, here are a few points of view that have helped me to change my mindset of the stigma of failure. 

Normalizing Failure of celebrities 

It is particularly difficult with the rise of social media in younger generations, as everyone essentially is sharing highlights of their life, posting their accomplishments. This leads to unrealistic expectations that no one is failing, when in reality, it is often due to all of the hard work and failure that is behind the screen.

It is important to not only acknowledge that, but for celebrities and influencers to talk about it too. 

One celebrity in particular who I got inspiration from is Michael Jordan. Funnily enough, I saw an advertisement from Nike during a marketing class I am taking a few weeks ago. While we were talking about something unrelated and the strategies of Nike’s ad, it stuck with me ever since.

Jordan is depicted describing statistics of all of his failures, the times he was counted on to succeed and didn’t. At the end of the video he says, “And that is why I succeed.”

I thought that this was very powerful not only as an advertisement, but as a message overall. It is important for younger generations to learn from successful individuals that the very reason they are successful is because they come back and keep trying after each and every failure. 

Normalizing Failure on social media

A few months ago I listened to an old episode from one of my new recently favorite podcasts, “Wavy.” “Wavy” is a podcast by sisters Summer and Brie Mckeen. Summer Mckeen started out on YouTube back in 2012, and started the podcast with one of her two sisters only last year. One podcast in particular entitled “Positives in Being Canceled,” incorporates the discussion of failure. 

Brie Mckeen states at the beginning of the episode that “Life is full of failures as it should be, and it’s not a bad thing and we need to change the narrative.” I didn’t go into this episode seeking advice on failure, but I happened upon it and they provided some really insightful advice and comments on the subject.

In their lighthearted conversation, the sisters discuss how successful people experience failures more. Not seeing failure as a negative, but as redirection and a learning opportunity is what sets people apart. They read valuable quotes from a book that Brie claims has changed her life: “Goal Mapping.” The author, Brian Mayne, said “Often the stigma of failure is so strong that it leads people to blame the situation instead of looking at themselves and accepting that they could have done things differently.” 

Each of the quotes that the sisters discussed was inspiring, but it was even more powerful when they conversed and shared experiences about their own past failures. The difference was the Mckeen’s speculating on how they can do better next time. 

It is so important for successful people on every level, not just celebrities but influencers normalizing the conversation and stigma of failure on social media. I highly recommend listening to this episode for anyone who wants to hear more of what they have to say.

Acceptance of Contributing Factors

Sometimes all you can do is try your best. If you have put in as much effort as you possibly can, you are doing all you can to succeed in that moment.

There can often be contributing factors, maybe you were having an off day, got no sleep or had life get in the way of your plans to study all weekend. There are so many things that can get in the way of you not succeeding and sometimes it is simply not your fault. 

While this can be possibly the most frustrating of failures, reminding yourself that you did your best is what matters when changing the stigma of failure. Things happen, life happens, you make mistakes. It’s okay because things rarely go the way we planned. Sometimes doing the best is all that you can do, and learning to accept that is sometimes a tough pill to swallow.

Next time something like this happens, instead of getting down on yourself for failing, congratulate yourself for trying and doing your best even though life got in the way. 

While I am trying my hardest to change the stigma of failure, it is something that I will admit I am still working on. A bad grade still stings, I still feel defeated. But with this new mindset, I get up from lying on my bed and try harder. 

For those of you who are currently dealing with rejection or failures over and over, it is okay and it will get better. Although it may be hard to see now, rewriting the definition of failure is what leads to the most successful people in life. 

Junior at Penn State University majoring in Journalism and minoring in Business, and Entrepreneurship.