Last week, I discussed the reality of me applying all the skills and methods I have learned about wellbeing and the path to feeling better. I was honest in saying that it hasn’t been a perfect journey. But what should we do when things go wrong? What should we do if we moved back a few steps in our progress? I think: we have to forgive ourselves.
This is my last blog for the fall term, and I want this to be dedicated as an important reminder for you during the stressful time of exams. Not everything will go according to plan. There may be good exams and ones that don’t go as well. Some days may be more productive studying than others. And that is okay.
Forgiving yourself is complicated. For me, it’s taking a step back from a situation, outcome, or a result, and accepting what happened. It’s about understanding what my circumstance was at the time of the event, reflecting on what I could have possibly controlled in that scenario, and learning for the next time. Let’s look at an example.
Last semester, I failed an exam. I genuinely thought I had done well until I shockingly looked at my final mark in that class. I was upset, ashamed of myself, and confused. I thought it was a mistake until I talked to a TA and learned where I went wrong. I was even more ashamed knowing I had indeed failed, but took a step back to consider my circumstance. I had studied well and hard for the exam. I did struggle in that class but understood the fundamental concepts of it. Lastly, I understood that the testing setting was hard for me to focus in. I realized that failing that exam didn’t mean that I was a failure at all – but that I just had one bad exam.
I’m still not proud of it, but I have accepted that sometimes things don’t go well. Since that experience, I have practices self-forgiveness by learning new ways to study and ways to concentrate in testing environments. This is a skill that will be useful throughout the rest of my time here, and I learned it through failure.
With forgiveness comes the understanding that you need to take care of your health, even if that means taking a day off from studying. Forgiveness is understanding that we can’t control everything. It goes beyond just academics, but also everyday life. Forgive yourself when you didn’t put your dishes away or go to the gym, if you slept in late because you were exhausted, and when you broke promises you had made to yourself.
The important thing is to be kind to yourself, keep your head up and keep trying. You will get there and you will succeed. Maybe this can be a New Year’s resolution for those of you that make them, or a gentle reminder for others during this exam period.
Good luck, Happy Holidays, and see you in the New Year!