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6 Ways to Get Over Failure

About a month ago, I started my sophomore year of college, the year I finally thought I was going to have my life together. I was coming in with a year already under my belt, and I felt more determined than ever to be successful. However, it seemed that life had other plans for me. As the first few weeks went by, I began to pile onto my plate far more than I could handle. I started spending so much of my time on extracurriculars and other commitments that I wasn’t allowing myself to focus on school or personal relationships. I wasn’t making any of my deadlines, I was constantly putting things off, and I knew that I wasn’t performing at my true potential. I honestly felt as if I was failing in practically every aspect of my life.

The downward spiral continued. I felt like such a complete and utter failure that it got to the point where even getting out of bed was a struggle. I didn’t want to go to class or see any of my friends because I was so afraid that I would just keep letting people down. I knew that I needed to make a change. After talking with some close friends and doing reflections every night, I came up with the perfect game plan to get over my failure:

1. Get angry.

It’s okay to be upset. Honestly, I’ve learned that allowing yourself to feel this way is an important step in moving past failure. I had always been worried that being upset was a sign of weakness, so I kept everything hidden inside. However, eventually I realized that suppressing my feelings did more harm than good. It’s only harmful to you if you bury your emotions and let them build up until they tear you apart. It’s perfectly healthy, if not therapeutic, to be upset and angry over a mistake. Just don’t let it consume you.

2. Take a step back.

Sometimes we can get so caught up in the moment of failure that we just forget to stop and breathe. Give yourself space to heal. Remind yourself that this does not define you. Take a walk, go to Starbucks, pet a dog. Realize that in the grand scheme of things, this failure won’t even matter– even if it feels like it’ll last forever.

3. Figure out where you went wrong.

For me, this is the hardest part of the process. No one likes to think about where they messed up, but you can’t get any better at something if you don’t pinpoint where you made a mistake. Just a week ago, I got so caught up in my work life that I barely studied for my French exam. I told myself I would just wing it, but as soon as I looked down at the first question, I knew I was in trouble. It was difficult for me to swallow my pride and admit that I should have dedicated more time to studying, but once I realized this, a huge improvement was made. After this first exam, I started asking other people for help along with going to my professor’s office hours. Recognizing where I went wrong allowed me to do something about it and better myself as a result.

4. Talk it out.

As someone who doesn’t like to admit their failure, it can be difficult to own up to the fact that you did something wrong. You don’t want people to know that you messed up! However, once I started opening up about my mistakes, I realized that there are other people who were going through the same thing. No one is perfect, and there’s no better bond than realizing that someone else messed up too. I can’t count how many times I’ve waltzed into my best friend’s room after class just to talk about where I went wrong that day. Surround yourself with friends like these who will always be willing to listen, no matter what it was that you did.

5. Formulate a plan.

My dad always likes to tell me, “it doesn’t matter what happened. That’s all in the past. What matters now is how you deal with the aftermath.” It can be hard to go back to the drawing board when something doesn’t work out, but it’s all part of the process. I love actually writing my plans down on paper, because it seems so much more real that way. By having a plan, you can really see all the small details you need to achieve your goal.   

6. Try again.

There’s a Japanese proverb that says, “fall down 7 times, stand up 8.” It may take multiple times to finally do something right, but you just have to pick yourself up and keep going. The thing about failure is that it is essential for growth. If you don’t fail at something, how will you ever learn? So when it feels like the Universe is out to get you, just remember that failure is a part of life. Give yourself space, then get ready to go to work. xo A


Angelica is a writer for Her Campus at Saint Louis University. She loves SLU more than the average person probably does. Currently she is working on getting her BSW in Social Work, but she loves to write and design on the side. She is a big fan of Christmas, social justice, and gift giving. Can be found drinking an iced chai latte while running late to class. As always.