Thoughts On The Fear of Failure

My end of year exams start next week (six exams in three weeks so not super intense), and it’s usually around this time of year that the fear of failure tends to peak for me. Like many others I am sure, I struggle to believe in my own abilities. Impostor syndrome is very real, and a hurdle we have to deal with.

I usually try to focus on my own work and not compare with my peers about how much work we are each getting done or test scores. We all have our own strengths and weaknesses, and all our situations are different. How you are doing compared to your peers does nothing to help you reach your own personal goals. Progress is what you should focus on. What steps do you need to take to get to where you want to be?

This does not mean ignoring or cutting out friends and classmates. This just means not seeing them as competitors and seeing them as peers on the same journey are you. They are sources of support and you can and should reach out for help and vice versa.

Hustle culture definitely can make you feel lesser for not studying ‘enough’ and that you aren’t working hard enough. This leads me to feel demotivated and do even less and it turns into a vicious cycle. I sometimes lose the energy to even tackle topics I know I don’t do as well on. Try following accounts on social media that post motivating messages and affirmations to try to stay motivated.

Something else is that you need to believe that you deserve to be where you are. You deserve to take up space. You deserve help. It may sound a little cheesy but sometimes words of affirmation can help avoid those periods of insecurity.

Also, knowing your purpose and why you want to do the things you want to do helps to focus on achieving your goals. Celebrate your successes, even the small ones, because they help build confidence and look at failure as a chance to explore areas of improvement. Failure is the only way we get better at things. I know I probably sound like a broken record, but honestly this mindset change is probably the most helpful thing for coping with this.

Other more tangible tips are regularly taking breaks so you don’t get overwhelmed, spend time in your day doing other things to remind you are not made up only of your studies, and recapping all the things you achieved that day. Please take care of yourselves this exam season.

Don’t forget you can always reach out to someone you trust if you are having a tough time. Your parents, friends, teachers or tutors are happy to listen. If you find it difficult to talk to someone you know, you can join anonymous study communities online like study lives and discords.

Good luck to everyone with assessments and happy studying!

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