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A Student’s Reflections on Failure

Failure crossed out with success written below it

This piece was written by communication intern Britney Rodriguez. Britney Rodriguez is currently undecided in what major she wants to pursue. She sees it as a learning opportunity to discover more about the pathways available at Bakersfield College. During her free time she likes to play games, watch anime, and spend time with family. Britney’s dream one day is to make her own Webtoon.

Failure’s a weighty and depressing topic. Why talk about failure when this is college? And failure is the very thing that you don’t want to mention. The truth is… we all fail and we need to talk about failures more. We’re so used to worrying about our grades. It affects our grade point average, registration status, and financial aid eligibility. No one wants to fail a class. It labels you as a student who’s lazy and unwilling to contribute. 

Being enrolled in college is very humbling and helps many of us not to be so full of ourselves. It also teaches us a precious lesson about failure. We will struggle and fail however many times it takes to pass. We could fail after studying for days. We could be the most competent person and fail. We could even have everything memorized and fail. Anyone can fail, but that is okay; we’re human and make mistakes. It makes us realize that there is no perfect person and that we all can relate in some ways. Refrain from invalidating your efforts and the time spent working on your assignment or studying for that test. 

Why are college students afraid of failure in general? For some, we might associate failure with self-esteem, academic validation, and meeting others’ expectations. At the same time, it is great to keep on top of your studies and assignments. There will be times when it goes differently than you expect it. We might wish we could draw like Leonardo Da Vinci for an art project about expression. We may hope to be able to solve answers like Albert Einstein in math class when instead we simply struggle trying to learn the equations. We might aspire to write like Shakespeare in English class even though we find we can’t fully express ourselves. Notice how I mentioned famous successful people. The truth is they all struggled and failed with their art, mathematical equations, and their writing. 

Last semester, I took an English class, a subject I’ve usually excelled at. During the semester, I doubted myself and failed multiple times. I applied my basic critical thinking skills to the essays I typed up. I spent hours and days working on a five-page paper. Reviewing and going over everything to forget to even turn in my work cited page. That one thing brought me down, but I’ve learned not to ignore it. Yes, I understand that bitter feeling of failure, but I acknowledged my efforts. I attended every class and wrote notes on anything worthwhile. I spoke to the professor to get feedback on my paper and started my assignments ahead of time. Now I need to learn from my mistakes and improve myself.

While it’s fantastic to want to improve yourself, we will all face challenges and hurdles. Failing is accepting that it may not have been enough. Just because you failed does not mean you’re a failure or are dense. It means you need extra help or you need to approach the task differently. Once you retake that one class, you know what to expect based on your personal experience. While failures can leave a bitter taste in our mouths, we can learn from them to grow in the long run.


One thought on “A Student’s Reflections on Failure

  1. This was so enlightening! I have been there (more than my fair share I’m afraid). Thank you for telling this so eloquently. I appreciate your insight.

    Liked by 1 person

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