Failure is a teacher NOT an undertaker

Dr.Shivani Salil

Exams have come and gone. We fretted, panicked and then gathered ourselves to face them. Exam stress gave way to obsessing over the results so much so that even a holiday couldn’t take our mind off them. And now is the moment of truth. Or is it really? How can a random three-hour evaluation be the reflection of an entire academic year? Exams are important, no denying that but crippling ourselves with its results, that is not justified. I wish someone had given me these pointers but let me pass on what I have learnt.

  • Start with watching your breath because most of us hold our breath without realizing it, so breathe easy.
  • Be kind to yourself. Take one disaster at a time.
  • DO NOT justify or defend your performance. It drains you, takes you away from your goal and achieves nothing. It might offer temporary relief or worse make you smug. So, avoid it by all means.
  • Introspect in all honesty. We may present any face to the world but so long as we are true to ourselves, all is not lost. Speak to your teachers; they often know your strengths and weaknesses more than you.
  • Steer clear of social media. Nowadays that’s where everyone is and the peer pressure is felt the most on such sites.
  • Everyone makes mistakes, fools insist on repeating them. Failure essentially is a stepping stone not a diving board to depression. Instead rise like a phoenix (remember Fawkes in the Harry Potter series, Dumbledore’s Phoenix who rises from his ashes.)
  • It feels like your whole future hinges on your grades. Trust me it does NOT. Lots of people achieve success in life without doing well in school exams.
  • Work on having a plan B. Take a look at the different study options which could get you to your chosen career via an alternative route. Read and do your research
  • Make two lists. Things that you like to do and things you are good at. Compare the two and if there is a common point in both, e.g. dancing might be something you enjoy and you seem to be a natural at it then focus your energies on it.
  • Negative thoughts creep in unannounced. Try beating them down with positivity. “All Izz Well”, often does the trick!
  • Look for ways to dissipate the negative energy build up. Distractions help especially if the activity involves hands. Try cooking, baking, sports… anything…. something.
  • And sleep well. A rested mind doesn’t play games with you.
  • Everyone needs a shoulder to cry on. Better out than in. And that’s not a sign of weakness. It could be parents, friends or family. Remember they wish you well and want to see you happy and successful. Do not close your doors on them
  • Healing requires time. Give yourself that. Clichéd as it may sound, remember that failure is temporary. It’s the quitting that makes it permanent.
  • The road ahead is tough but only your faith and persistence will see you through it.
  • And do NOT be relying on alcohol or smoking. Substance abuse is a downward spiral and you don’t want to know what’s at the end of it.
  • However, if the stress is so overwhelming that it’s getting in your way, its time to step up and reach out to a professional.

A gentle reminder to the parents and all the ‘concerned’ adults

  • We all know you mean well but remember not to overdo that. You’ve been through this journey and survived your failures. You are the best people to tell them that. Comparison is the thief of joy. Your child is unique and a little lost. Help her find herself.
  • Do you remember your grades? How much of a setback did you suffer when you had bad grades? Think on those lines, that’ll will give you a clearer perspective.
  • Stop discussing the results with the hapless kid all the time. She’ll tell you when she’s ready too
  • Overcome your own anxiety about the social norms and expectations. ‘Log kya kahenge’ is not your problem. If you are being judged for your kid’s grades, it’s time to look for new friends!
  • Your child should be your focus. Hang around her, make her feel loved and cared for.
  • Spending time will help you know her better and you’ll know if things do not improve. An early intervention is possible only if you are vigilant and know when to look outwards for help.

Help is available if you know what you are dealing with and accepting it with grace and equanimity….


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