Overcoming Fear and Feelings of Failure

I’ve been meaning to touch on my university experience a little bit more. Writing about current things and where I am now is important, but to me, it’s just as important to backtrack and reflect on where I was. It’s such a significant part of my journey. Part of encouraging people through my blog is about sharing past and present aspects of my journey, documenting my journey from this point on ensuring to touch on previous events.

Getting onto my course was a journey in itself, (see ‘A Leap of Faith’ for more details), and I was not prepared for what was to come. Saying that my university experience was not what I expected it to be, doesn’t come close to how it all panned out. After the first couple of weeks I realised that this was going to take every breath in me, but like always, I was prepared to give everything that I had to succeed. I’ll never forget the day I cried out to God. I felt like everything was so much bigger than me. Still I pushed through. I dunno. With every passing unit, day, week, things seemed to get worse. I hated waking up knowing I had to go there and how fear and sadness consumed me when I got off the train each morning and walked to university. I never knew I could ever feel that small. Never knew I could feel so dumb, never knew I would feel so humiliated. I’ve never felt so intimidated.

It pains me looking back and thinking about how I felt like I was always drowning. I fought, I pushed and I never gave up, but still, it wasn’t good enough. It felt like I’d take one step forward and twelve steps back. Excluding the written side of the course, I failed every single unit. And every. Single. Time I got the results paper back it was like someone was tearing my heart out, because again, my best was never good enough and all I ever wanted to do was succeed. On top of that, I experienced issues with a tutor who only made me feel smaller. I was appalled by his lack of professionalism. But anyway, year one wasn’t very good for me and I soon realised there was no way I could make it into year two. I was faced with two options:

  1. Resubmit the relevant pieces of work during the summer or
  2. Retake the year.

I chose the latter. How did I expect to successfully redo and resubmit all of the things that were asked of me, (in six weeks) when I couldn’t even pass the units one by one in the space of a year? Retaking seemed like the better option because I knew I’d have a firmer grip on my studies. This would be the first time I’d learn to overcome fear. I feared the unknown and the ‘I told you so’s’ but I soon realised that none of that mattered, (see ‘Help, I’m Retaking Year One!!’).

Anyway, I used the summer to prepare and felt ready for the next step. So, when September came round, I charged at it the same way I charged at it the previous year. I made sure to go over any conditions and found that I could only fail one unit in order to progress to second year. I won’t lie, it shook me a little bit, but it was another reason for me to work harder to ensure that I passed all four units with the grades I knew I deserved.

But four weeks passed and my results came in. I’d failed. Again. I can’t even tell you how sick and tired I was of failing. I was so angry and so frustrated with myself and I couldn’t help but wonder if this would ever end. After speaking with my lecturer and the admissions/ results team, I found that once more, I had two options:

  1. Continue on and work hard to pass the other three units. At the end, my work would be assessed and the examiner would decide whether I could retake the unit the following year and return to second year the year after that. If I was not allowed to retake the unit, all of that would essentially be for nothing.
  2. Leave knowing that I tried and it was time to let go.

I was faced with one of my hardest choices. There was no guarantee or safety net if I went with the first option but also, going with the first option was a waste of time especially considering the fact that I was no longer passionate about the subject and this was no longer a field that I wanted to pursue. Going with the second option, despite the fact that it was the better option, made me feel like I had failed. I just couldn’t let go. I couldn’t bear failure. I couldn’t bear the fact that I had to let go, because letting go felt like accepting defeat, letting go felt like I’d given up, like I’d lost the fight I fought so hard to win. I desperately wanted to succeed for myself, but also succeed so that I could prove everybody who said I couldn’t do it, wrong. Ultimately, it felt like ‘Letting Go and Leaving Uni’ would mean that they won.

In order to leave, I first had to overcome those fears and overcome those feelings of doubt. Three things helped me to overcome these feelings:

  1. Thinking about things logically: When things get to us, we sometimes lose our senses or our ability to think straight. I had to remove what I felt and line up all the facts, making sure to consider what was best for me.
  2. Praying/ Surrendering to God: I try not to make huge choices without God, I’m working on consulting God on every choice I’m about to make, not matter how big or small. With that being said, I made sure to seek His face so that I could be sure that this was what He wanted from me. I had no choice but to trust Him, no matter the outcome.
  3. Seeking wise council: I wanted to make sure that I consulted those who mattered the most. I spoke to my dad, sister and my former support tutor-who has become one of my greatest companions. It was she who helped me the most. ‘A’ understood my pain and she watched and helped me with this part of my journey. Her advice was and still is so valuable and I hold her words ever so close to my heart.

I did three quizzes with ‘A’, she asked the questions, I wrote down the answers. We reviewed them at the end and it was clear, the words basically spelt out that it was time to let go, leave and move on. I tell you, the day I left? I have never felt so much joy and so much peace. I was happy.

Thinking about things logically, praying/ surrendering to God and seeking wise council helped me to see the following:

  • I am not a failure
  • It’s ok to let go- especially when you realise that something isn’t for you
  • Letting go doesn’t mean that you’ve failed
  • Letting go shows your strength
  • The importance of standing firm in what you’ve chosen to do
  • I didn’t fail, I didn’t lose but I gained
  • It’s ok
  • Leaving didn’t mean that they won, it meant that I won, because I did not allow them to control my life, my feelings and the choices that I had every right to make
  • I gave it my all and I couldn’t have given anymore if I tried and
  • They are the ones, who didn’t deserve me.

I thank God for seeing me through- I am forever grateful. I pray that you are encouraged and that you put yourself first, never allowing feelings or what other people will think, to get in the way of what is best for you. You are not a failure, you are loved and you will be ok.

Love, love and more love

Until next time



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