Sometimes, in spite of hard work and good choices, things just don’t go your way. Sometimes you’re left with what can only be described as an academic failure on your hands, and cries of “why me?” in your heart.

It’s discouraging. But it’s also something everyone goes through. Here are some tips to help you move on from a failure, and to ensure it won’t define your future.

Separate It from Your Identity

You’ve failed – that does not make you a failure. Using this one instance to define your entire academic existence is not just silly, but dangerous. Accept what has happened as a part of yourself, but know based on all empirical evidence that is isn’t the whole.

Boy sleeping on top of laptop


Let Out Your Frustration

If you’re feeling maligned, unfairly treated or just plain down in the dumps, let it out. Talk to someone (whether it be a friend, family member or tutor) or write down your thoughts.

Keeping things bottled up will not help with the moving on process – instead, you’re likely to remain distracted and caught up, and unable to continue with new projects.

Take Some Time

However, rather than immediately throwing yourself headfirst into something new, it can be important to take a little bit of time to get distance from and perspective on your failure.

Otherwise, you’re likely to be bringing the negative energy and feelings of low self-esteem into whatever you work on next, making it difficult to get out of the cycle.

Look At What Went Wrong

Once you’re less emotionally connected to the failure, it can be useful to analyse it to see where things took a turn for the worst.

This can help you understand the failure, making it seem less unfair and personalized, and make sure you can prevent a similar thing happening again.

Be Brutally Honest With Yourself

Taking a closer look at what went wrong will not work unless you’re willing to accept some responsibility. You can say you studied for the hours you needed to, but only you know if you really did. And lying to yourself about it won’t help anything.

Don’t Dwell

Once you better understand your failure, moving on is essential. Dwelling is a sure-fire way to make you feel really low about yourself and thus destroy all your motivation.

Don’t Panic

One small failure does not mean the end of all success. Everyone has something they wish they’d done better on in their lives – but it doesn’t have to define the rest of it. Stay calm, move on and work hard. It will be ok.

Practice Self Compassion

Think about what you’d say to a friend in your position. You wouldn’t be piling on pressure, questioning their entire academic integrity or emotionally beating them up, would you? So why on earth would you do it to yourself?

Be kind and supportive to yourself, and you’ll soon move on from this one blip. Because remember – that’s all it is.

Annie Walton Doyle writes for Inspiring Interns, which specialises in sourcing candidates for internships and graduate jobs

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