Lately I've been having some setbacks. I'm not gonna lie, it really sucks. But it inspired me to write this blogpost, because over the years I've learned to deal with failure. Doesn't mean it doesn't affect me anymore, but it doesn't hurt me as much as it used to. So here are my tips on how to deal with failure.
1. Is it failure?
The first thing you need to realise is that failure isn't always bad. To most people failure means that they wanted to do something and didn't succeed. But is there really only one way to do something? For example, when I first started making jewellery I "failed" a lot of times. I used the wrong materials, I attached things the wrong way, I used the wrong colour combinations, etc. You can see of this as a maze. Sometimes you gotta run into five dead ends before you find the exit. So is your failure really failure, or just one step closer to success?
2. Accept it
Failing is normal. Everyone fails from time to time. Sometimes it's our own fault, sometimes it's because of external causes. Whatever it is, you need to accept that you failed. This does not mean you should give up. I'll give another example. As some may know, I have autism and ADHD. This causes a lot of trouble for me when it comes to things like school and sometimes work as well. If I got a euro for every time I failed an exam because I misunderstood the questions, I'd be rich. But I know this is how I work. I know that this is my handicap, and I know I can't change it. So I accept it. When I do schoolwork, I keep in mind that I may not succeed the first time. This has given me a lot of peace and takes away some pressure. So my tip is to accept it. Maybe even keep the possibility of failure in mind. Don't count on it, of course, but prepare yourself for what may happen if you fail. Make a plan. I have done that the past two months because I am writing my graduation report. I knew that it would be difficult for me so I kept in mind that I might not graduate in July like the rest, but that I might graduate in October. And guess what? It happened. I failed my plan of action and am now planning on graduating in October. Am I bummed out? A little. But am I upset about it? No. Not at all. Because I already knew there was a chance that this would happen.
3. Use it
I always say that I don't learn unless I fail. I learn from my mistakes the most, because I'm stubborn and won't change until I learn the hard way that something isn't working. If you fail, there's always a lesson to learn. Analyse what went wrong and use that to make sure you won't make the same mistake again. I did that when learning to make jewellery. I did it when my very first online store failed. Failure always comes with a lesson. Don't ignore that lesson. Look back at your failure and think "this didn't work, so at least I now know what not to do". Then use it to make a new plan. Also ask feedback. I always ask my teachers for feedback on failed exams and reports. It will give you insight in what went wrong and maybe you'll discover that what you thought was right all along, is actually wrong. You can use this for future things as well. Asking feedback is very valuable.
4. Don't compare
Taking the autism example again, I've learned not to compare myself to others. I know I'm a slow learner, I know I need extra time to complete tasks. Yeah, that really sucks and I wish it was different, but I can't change it. So I need to be kind to myself. I'm doing the best I can, and that's what matters. You should do the same. Why compare yourself with the smartest kid in the classroom? It's not fair to do so. You're you. If you need to compare yourself with someone, compare yourself with you. Look at how you've done things in the past. Has something changed? If yes, maybe you can work on that. If not, maybe you just had bad luck. There's not always a reason behind failure. Don't beat yourself up over it. I always tell myself something along the lines of "Yes, you failed. And it really freaking sucks and you have the right to be upset. But you did your best. And now you're gonna prove everyone that you can succeed".
5. Accept defeat
This last step is meant for those who have failed a billion times with the same thing. Like I said, failing does not mean giving up, but sometimes you have to acknowledge that maybe something isn't for you. I know people who went to University and tried so very hard to make it work but kept failing. Their mental health went downhill as did their confidence. Eventually they quit and did something more on their level instead. They became happier and more confident. Of course you should try and do the best you can, but you have to accept that you have limits too. I mean, you can try and teach a penguin to fly, but if it's just not in its nature to fly, it's only gonna get frustrated with itself. The same goes for humans. Sometimes failing over and over again is a sign that maybe the thing you're doing is not for you. And that doesn't mean you're not smart or qualified, it just means that you have to find a different way of doing it, or do something else that will bring you less stress. Even if that means you have to give up on something you really want. I'm all for fighting for what you want, but I'm also sensible enough to know when to quit. Your happiness and health should be the most important thing, and if the thing you want the most is making you cry yourself to sleep every night, then maybe you need to think about if it's a good idea to continue. Besides, you can always try again when you're more stable. I know people who ended up doing what they always wanted to years after a failed attempt, because they used those years in between to gather knowledge and experience. Sometimes quitting merely means taking a break. You can always try again later.
Do you have some tips to add? Let me know in the comments!