Help—I Got My First F In College
Failing a class sucks. You're forced to repeat it for another term while all your other blockmates move forward in life, which drains any feelings of self-worth right out of you. Failures essentially make you feel like it’s the end of the world. You tried your best, you barely slept, missed a handful of meals, and opted out of some quality time with your family just to study and keep up with class requirements, and yet you were slapped with a big fat 'F' in the end. In hard times like these, here are some things you might have forgotten, but must always try to keep in mind:
Failing doesn’t reflect your overall capability in life.
When we get a failing mark, we’re often left with insecurities and anxieties about our own worth. Psychologytoday.com says that when we fail, we are less likely to perceive our skills as competent or enough, leaving us to swim in the misinformed notion that we are weaklings, incapable of doing anything right in the world. As dramatic as that might sound, it’s the illusion believed by many of us who have had their fair share of letdowns. Still, it’s essential to constantly remind ourselves that, while getting those Fs in exams is not good—it's also not a bad thing. It’s nice to always aim for the best, but it’s also important to know that the road to “best” is riddled with bumps and obstacles.
It’s fuel for us to do better the next time around.
A lot of people might overlook the fact that our failures can be a great source of inspiration and drive. We just need to tap and redirect that energy towards becoming better. When you fail a class, it is only natural to feel terrible and grieve over the fact that you slipped. But once you release your pent-up feelings about disappointing yourself, you’ll soon learn to look up and redirect your actions towards honing your skills or improving your habits. Don’t you feel so much more accomplished knowing that you finally succeeded in something you used to be bad at?
It’s going to suck, but you’ll be okay.
Not going to lie—failing a test, or maybe an entire subject, would probably rank high on the scale of the worst feelings in the world, maybe a couple of levels above seeing your favorite show get cancelled after just one season.
The feeling of failure seems much worse than getting your own heart broken, because it feels like it’s actually you who’s breaking the hearts of the people you love, i.e. your parents.
While the heartache is incomparable, it’s certainly not permanent. In college, you are given another chance to retake that class and get a better grade. Bouncing back will be a slow and gradual process. It might take you a couple more times to get back on track, but if you keep on trying, you’ll realize that your ‘F’ is not a Scarlet Letter branding that would eternally ruin your life, but a mere life lesson that helped you realize your true potential.
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First. Pixie dust and paper cuts – these are the first things Wendy knew about Peter Pan. Aurora first met Prince Philip when she was sixteen. Learning how to ride a bike was also a first while I was growing up, but you are probably the first of too many. The first collection of dust and stars; maybe Luna will try to ask, who was your first? I might answer and tell her that it was you.
The first of too many stars in the sky. You are the first of too many fallen leaves during fall – and you will be the most anticipated snowflake as winter comes. A dark path that you can’t see without any light, hence, you were once the moon and there are the stars that shine so bright at night. Are we too early? Or we just really want to be ahead of time? Even in a glimpse, I would like to see the two of us connect as if we can reach the sky. There are other parts of the heavens you have never saw and other oceans you haven’t laid your feet onto – but the constellations will always wait for you. Close your eyes, love, close your eyes. Start counting backward: 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Count backward until you see the twinkling lights that will guide you to the right path. To the right satellite; to the right person. A first.
There are many firsts – first love, first heartbreak, first sport you played, the first thing you do in the morning, the first thing you remember about the person in front of you. There are a lot. It’s actually up to us how we will consider something as a first. So, Primo, you are already a first of too many.
If you know me, and know me well, I am not the biggest fan of idyllic lifestyles. With a Type A personality, I act immediately upon whatever challenge that needs to be addressed. I actually enjoy keeping my mind preoccupied: doing university work in my favourite cafe then running errands around town, grocery shopping here, updating my accounts there, photocopying documents on the way down the street - all just in time before having a glass of champagne at the bar with my friends come evening.
And so, you could imagine my bewilderment when the next challenge to be faced was an extensive self-quarantine protocol. I didn’t know what to do when my greatest responsibility in this situation was to do nothing at all. My first few attempts to combat my consternation were very much rooted in distraction and imagination. My distractions involved conducting research, writing songs, calling family and friends, filming videos, and eating chocolate! My imaginations and fantasies were centred on travelling, shopping, even clubbing (which I rarely do) for when they find a cure to COVID-19. I did anything and everything that could be considered constructive in order to pass the time, mainly hoping I could just undertake the basic human necessities to survive - that is, eat and sleep the day through - until the next day comes, until the world is closer to becoming a better place, until quarantine ends, until my flight follows through, until I see my family and friends again.
Days in self-isolation and suspended flights turned to weeks and turned to months. By the third extension here in Spain where I study Fashion Business, I had to tell myself this shall be my new normal now, that I was blessed to be healthy, that I was tired of merely existing and missed what it was like to actually live - even if just within four walls. Little by little, I began to find significance in the simple occurrences of the day: the soft glare of the rising sun beaming golden streaks through my bedroom window upon waking up, the fragrance of freshly washed bed sheets that I had painstakingly hung to fit a relatively small clothes rack without crumpling them, the crunch and tanginess of warm toasted bread topped with raspberry marmalade, the buzzing sound of a phone call from home just waiting to be answered, to the caress of a fuzzy sweater to keep warm at night. I realised, “What pleasures to be enjoyed in the pause of slow living!” Through this continued pause, which I loathed at first, I began to appreciate each moment of the day rather than wish it would pass more swiftly, moments I had overlooked so often before the lockdown. I started to find that the challenge of self-isolation was never to pause both the regular routines of life as well as the positive emotions that came with these - as initially, I thought it meant to pause all happiness, so as to withstand a time of endurance in hopes for a better tomorrow, much like a form of delaying gratification. Life is just too fragile these days to delay gratification any further.
Life has paused, but it has not stopped. Believe that like any punctuation mark in a sentence, the pause will provide the right timing of things to take place. Till then, let us not waste our time waiting. Instead, we could be in the moment, seek substance in simplicity (that is, in what we already have), And enjoy the pleasure in pause. “Practice the Pause. When in doubt, pause. When angry, pause. When tired, pause. When stressed, pause. And when you pause, pray.”