Let me begin this post with a clear message, failing does not make you a failure. There is a difference between failing and being a failure, and without exhausting resources to find the exact definition, in my eyes failing is being faced with a setback, failure is when you give up without giving it your all. For those who may not know, last year I ended up failing some subjects, and ever since I’ve treated the experience with a stern gaze of discontent….

I’ve tried to look at the positive side of having to repeat some subjects this year, where the reduced study load means I could continue to work and earn an income, along with having more “spare” time to undergo some personal projects, such as this blog. However I won’t lie, when I saw friends attend their graduation a few weeks ago I wasn’t too pleased with myself, given I should have been with them.

What should you do if you fail a subject or two? I thought about quitting the course at one stage, and I thought about begging the unit chairs to pass me, whoever those two options aren’t exactly dignified. I accepted that I failed (which is the hardest part!) and looked at how I will approach the subjects a second time around.

I gave some pretty poor excuses as to why I failed which included SONA and work overloading me and complaining that the coursework was too high and demanding, but the real reason is how I approached the subjects. Now I’m not saying this is the case for everyone, but I feel as though it’s our attitudes and work ethic that determines how we fare in the semester. Case in point, this time around I have approached the subjects in a completely different manner and for one assignment I received a HD, as opposed to a N [fail] last year. It was effectively the same assignment, I still am fairly busy this year, but my attitude has changed.

If there is a point I want to drive home, it’s this, failing a subject isn’t the end of the world. It won’t destroy your chances of ever succeeding, getting a job or run you into financial ruins. Many successful people have failed in the past, in fact it’s practically universal law that you must fail before you succeed. People like Henry Ford, Bill Gates, Albert Einstein, Oprah Winfrey and Michael Jordan all failed before they succeeded. When applying for jobs, not many employers will be too bothered with your grades, they will be more interested in your skills and design ability. If they do ask, be honest, and if they decide not to hire you because you failed a subject, well would you want to work for them? As for financial ruins, in Australia (at my university), fees are around $1,000 a subject. We also have HECS which means we pay $0 upfront, and once we are employed and earning over $40,000 a year a small percentage is taken from our paycheck to pay back, in other words it’s a loan. Now $3,000 extra, over a 30-40+ year career isn’t exactly worrying me. However, in saying that I would probably have a different tune if I had to pay fees upfront.

It all comes down to attitude, and being positive. Once you fill your mind with negativity, it is difficult to remove. I could have curled up into a ball and hated myself, but that won’t help me. Instead I am looking at where I can improve, and what I can do with my “part-time year”, and at the moment it’s been a fairly positive year thus far. If you are feeling depressed, trapped and unsure what to do due to failing subjects or facing difficulties in current subjects, please seek help. Speak to your unit chair and let them know, or talk to close friends and family about your feelings and struggles, or speak to a professional (or organisations that deal with mental health). I understand failing can have a negative impact on your mental well-being, so please don’t bottle it up, speak up and reach out. You can also email me at richardson[dot]avj[@]gmail[dot]com [sorry, to stop the robots spamming me] if you want to chat about whatever is troubling you.