Facing Failure | Tips for Dealing with Disappointment

Failure sucks. How we cope with failure doesn’t have to.

Whether you’re a blogger, a student, a creative, or another working professional, failure is a part of life that everyone deals with at some point. Unfortunately, failure (and the fear and disappointment that comes along with it), can lead to downward spirals and faltering confidence. If you’re feeling down about your recent failures or you’re looking for tips on coping with failure, please keep reading.

I’m a Failure: My 2019 Disappointments

I ended 2018 on a super high note. Not only was I feeling grateful for the experiences I had in 2018, but for the first time in a very long time, I felt hopeful and excited about my future. I was going back to school to chase my professional dreams. I set a range of personal, professional, and blogging goals that I was certain I’d crush. However, it wasn’t long before the realities of life began to set in and weigh my spirit down.

After a few weeks of working part-time and going to graduate school full time, I quickly realized that I would be unable to properly do my duties at work while I was in school. Even though I loved my job, I knew that I had to quit because my graduate program needed to be my priority. This was an unexpected life change that I did not anticipate.

By the beginning of February, my course load started to pile up and my anxiety started to skyrocket. I felt unequipped to handle the workload. Although I’ve always been a good student, I was a procrastinator throughout my undergraduate studies. Unfortunately, I learned very quickly that I could not save my graduate course work until the last minute if I wanted to do well in my program.

By mid-February, I felt alone in my program (despite being surrounded by so many students). Making friends was proving to be tough. It was at this point that I learned another hard lesson: undergraduate school is your life. Graduate school is only a portion of your life.

By the end of February, I received a failing grade on an assignment in one of my courses. This is the second failing grade that I’ve received in my entire collegiate career. I cried. Why? Well, unlike undergrad, my graduate program doesn’t offer the same tutoring resources or other methods of extra help for struggling students. Moreover, it is frustrating that this particularly difficult course is giving me the most trouble when it is likely to be the least applicable to my future career goals.

Eventually, the stress and disappointment started to creep into my personal life, seemingly affecting everything around me. I stopped putting effort into my blog and essentially took a two-week blogging break. (Note: the only reason posts were still going live in February was because I had pre-written and pre-scheduled them.) As a result, I did not reach any of my blogging goals last month.

I felt like a failure. A fraud. An imposter.

But most of all, I felt scared that I made a huge life mistake.  I took a big risk in moving home, quitting my job, and going back to school. What if it doesn’t pay off? I let this crippling fear of utter failure dictate my life and my emotions for weeks, before finally snapping out of it.

Tips for Coping with Failure

Over the years, I’ve finally come to the realization that self-doubt is a liar. Self-doubt tells us to believe all of our worst fears and that we are no good at anything. When faced with failure, self-doubt and fear are the voices that cloud out rational thought and prevent us from remembering all of our best qualities and proudest accomplishments.

Although it’s tempting to give in to fear of failure and feelings of self-doubt, there is a myriad of ways to effectively cope with failure. The following are methods that I use when feelings of self-doubt and fear attempt to paralyze me.

  1. Clear My Head | Before I start actively dealing with failure-related emotions, it is important for me to clear my head. Common methods for clearing my head include praying for peace, taking a bath, going for a walk, or napping – tasks that don’t require a lot of effort or thought. These simple acts are soothing and help to calm my nerves if I feel too stressed to function.
  2. Write or Talk It Out | Whenever I deal with setbacks, I need to process my experiences and my emotions through journaling and heartfelt conversations. Reflecting back on my experiences helps me to release some of the potentially toxic emotions that I’m feeling. I let myself feel sad, embarrassed or scared after a moment of failure… but I don’t let myself stay in that mindset.
  3. Create A Game Plan | I won’t lie, when I start to feel like a total failure it can be hard to snap out of that toxic mindset or to do anything productive. The feeling of utter failure can be that paralyzing. However, I’ve learned that list-making and creating a game plan are my best friends during these times. Why? I can create a list of things I need to do, how I will go about doing each task, and create a timeline for when I want to tackle each problem.
  4. Read About Other Notable Failures | There are countless famous entrepreneurs, actors, musicians, and politicians, etc. who openly speak about their past failures. Sometimes, I find comfort in reading these types of stories because they give me hope that something good will come from my failures. Plus, these help me to feel like I’m not alone.
  5. BE KIND. | What do I mean by this? Be kind to yourself. Remember, the self-doubt that comes from failure is a liar. One way I am kind to myself is to write down or say positive affirmations daily. I try to focus on the positives rather than dwelling on past negative experiences.

Why Failing is a Good Thing

Experiencing failure is a good thing because it challenges us to grow. Every time I’ve experienced failure, whether professionally or personally, I’ve learned something valuable about myself or about what I want in my life.

Moreover, with each setback I’ve faced, I’ve been able to hone my problem-solving skills and develop true self-confidence. True self-confidence means having the courage to take risks despite the possibility of failure. True self-confidence means having the courage to try something new when you aren’t sure of the outcome. True self-confidence means having the courage to carry on even when times are tough.

As a side note, since writing this post (nearly a month ago), I have brought up my grade in the course that was giving me trouble. Also, I am already working at another job that is less strenuous and more accommodating to my schedule.

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Is the stress of 2019 overwhelming you? Check out this post full of wellness tips if you’re looking for ways to relax and love yourself.

How do you cope with failure? What is the best advice you’ve ever received for coping with failure? Please let me know in the comments below.