- Karan Banga
- Jan 10, 2022
Before I began my first semester at Western, I was extremely nervous, anxious, and excited. But most of all, I was scared. I was scared of the societal pressures associated with having AEO. I was scared of failing to meet the expectations that were set for me. I hadn’t even entered my first semester, and I was already petrified of the extreme standards that I had to maintain. The exaggeration on social media definitely made it seem like my peers were perfect and that they were not capable of failing, but that was not true.
“Failing” Early On
Social media has portrayed everyone in difficult programs to be complete geniuses who never fail in life or school. I held this viewpoint for quite a while. Entering my first semester, I knew I couldn’t afford to fail in school or any other aspect of my life. I knew that my grades and everything else had to be spectacular. Stress had taken over my life. Although I was doing well in school, a few bad quizzes here and there made me feel honestly miserable. I felt like a letdown. I wasn’t living up to the standards I set for myself. I felt like everyone around me was surpassing me, and I was being left behind. “Failing” was a huge wake-up call for me, as I was not accustomed to it.
Later on, I was able to realize that failure truly doesn’t exist. Each “failure” isn’t really a failure. It’s a lesson on how you might have done something wrong—a lesson on how you can improve for the future. I wouldn’t trade my failures this past semester for anything. That might seem crazy to you, but it’s true. The invaluable lessons I learned from them cannot be gained via any other method. It is pivotal to learn from failure before you truly see success. You also have to see the bigger picture in everything. One bad quiz, test, or exam isn’t going to be on your mind in the future. A simple quote from Takehiko Inoue can capture the true meaning of what I’m trying to say: “Preoccupied with a single leaf, and you won’t see the tree. Preoccupied with a single tree, you’ll miss the entire forest.”
As a first-year, it is crucial to learn from your failures and not to let them hold you back. What I was able to realize through the support of my family and friends was that it is okay to do bad. It’s okay to not be perfect. I was forcing myself into an ideal mold, something that I wanted but was not truly me. Once I was able to let go of the idea of my ideal self, I was able to achieve peace mentally. Reaching out to other students, I’ve heard similar stories. Stories of their expectations encompassing them into darkness. Talking with other people made me feel better about the situation I was in. It made me realize I wasn’t alone. There are hundreds of other students who feel exactly like I do, understanding that may help make the burden on your shoulders almost disappear.