Failing my first assignment was a difficult experience for me. I’d gone through high school getting good grades and throughout university, up until that assignment, I’d been getting Ds and HDs. There were times that I would feel really anxious about assignments and I’d go nights without a proper sleep all for the satisfaction of getting a moment’s joy reading the letters ‘H’ and ‘D’ side by side. Then suddenly everything stopped. I had failed an assessment.
I could make excuses for why I failed, but that’s not really why I’m writing this. I’m writing this because I’m still coming to terms with how difficult maintaining good mental health is during university, and I’m sure that I’m not alone. It was frustrating because I was sacrificing good grades to get work experience. Finding a balance can be incredibly challenging and it’s not always as simple as just studying and getting experience. Journalism can be a competitive field. I wanted to push myself to get as much experience as I could manage whilst still getting impressive grades. I was working as often as I could at my already stressful regular job, maintaining positive relationships with my friends and family, and getting work experience all at the same time, but still somehow finding time to actually relax. When everything came crumbling down as we approached the end of study period 2, I realised that it’s not always easy to do all of those things. It was really overwhelming to face something I’d never had to deal with before. The good news, though, is that I’m not alone in experiencing the self-doubt that followed.
“It’s not the end of the world,” I told myself after hearing my friends tell me it a thousand times.
Keep things in perspective. I sort of subconsciously assumed that it would be like this forever more, that everything from that point forward would be a repercussion of my failing and that now I must stoically accept the life of failure that loomed before me. Woe is me. I realised after hours of sitting in my car crying to ‘The Sound of The Smiths’ that I wasn’t actually helping the situation and that it would be okay to seek help when I needed it. And truthfully, I did need it. Then, after thinking things through and speaking to a few people that I trust about the way I was feeling, this sense that my life was ultimately doomed before it had really started began to fade and keep fading.
I know that in retrospect it’s not necessarily the biggest problem of our time. It’s not even close. But the stress that sometimes comes with the end of semester (and frankly, all of semester) can be immeasurable. How are we supposed to manage all of these aspects of our lives without feeling at least a pinch of ‘How Am I Ever Going To Get a Real Job If I Can’t Even Get Through Uni Without Breaking Down’ syndrome. It’s incredibly easy for us to sense our own dysfunctions, trust me, but that’s okay.
There are going to be times in your life – it’s sad but true – where things could be going better. You shouldn’t feel guilty about the way you handle this, because everyone deals with things differently. Heck, I could spend days hiding under my covers in shame following the anxiety attack that followed seeing that I probably wasn’t managing things as well as I thought I was, but that just isn’t me. These moments are the true tests of your life. You can pass through them. To say that it’s easy to pick yourself up all the time would be a lie, but you can pick yourself up.
Whatever is going on for you, remind yourself that what you’re feeling is okay. Humans have an enormity of emotions, and to experience the whole spectrum of those emotions is, well, human.
Words by Alyssia Tennant
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