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Your Failures Do Not Define You

Whether it was an exam you felt you could have done better on, a relationship, or that internship you had your heart set on, we’ve all felt the bitter sting of failure.  Unfortunately, failure is entirely unavoidable, as anyone who has ever succeeded will tell you.  But that doesn’t lessen the blow, nor does it alleviate your feelings of disappointment when you find yourself falling short of your goals.  The pressure to succeed academically can be overwhelming. 

According to a poster recently placed around campus, three out of four college students will experience their first anxiety episode by age twenty-two.  With midterms, final projects, work, social expectations, and that paper you keep putting off, it makes perfect sense that stress levels in college students have only been increasing in recent years.  A healthy dose of stress can be helpful- it can be useful motivation to accomplish all of your goals.  But when you’re feeling consistently overwhelmed, it becomes apparent that something must give.  Breakdowns, panic attacks, and vast amounts of anxiety may seem almost inevitable, but believe me when I say this, there are alternatives.

Firstly, remember that your value is not tied to your failures.  Your value is intrinsic, it cannot be increased, nor can it be taken away.  You are loved, and you are cared for, the protagonist of your own story.  Only you can define yourself, and only you can chose how you will live.  Just as you are the protagonist of your own story, you are a supporting character in the stories of many others.  You may be the key character that changes the life of the protagonist, a kindly stranger who is able to turn things around.  You have value, and you are necessary.  Your failures do not define you, but rather what comes out of them and what you chose will be what defines you.

Take a break.  Treat yourself to an episode on Netflix and your favorite snack, or go on a jog down to Boulevard Park to relax.  Taking your mind off of things for a while, so when you face your tasks again, you’ll feel refreshed and clear-minded.  Self-care is often the first to go when time and energy is limited, however neglecting yourself will leave you feeling even more worn out.  Whatever it is that makes you happiest; do it, you may be surprised by how much better your end up feeling.

Stress and the ever-present fear of failure can be overwhelming at times, but know that you don’t have to face it alone.  There are resources available on campus to provide assistance and support, so utilize them.  You are not alone, and your failures do not define you.  There are healthy outlets to channel your stress into, and steps you can take to minimize the pressures of academics.  Take care of yourself, and know that you are loved.

My name is Julia, and I'm currently a freshman at Western Washington University. I love hiking and the outdoors, and drinking way too much tea.
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