I often think about the first test I took in college. I studied for weeks in advance. I made notecards, I changed my study locations, I took breaks, ate healthy snacks and even went to office hours to confirm what I was studying was correct. I did everything they tell you to do in your UNV 101 class or in a First Year Friday about academic success. I did everything but pass the test.
In fact, I bombed it. I got my grade back, cried for a while and called my dad to help me feel better. I was very discouraged about how the duration of the class and my college career would go. I felt like I had done it all right and fell short. This was just the beginning of a series of events that happened during my first semester at Mercer that had me very discouraged about my performance here.
It was hard for me to keep up with my new schedule and I was constantly saying yes to things I didn’t actually want to do. I was tired all the time, and I was still trying to learn how to study for college exams. I had to teach myself to push through the walls of discouragement and to step into my own space.
This theoretical space was where I learned to recognize my intelligence, which is useful when you don’t always perform up to par. This space also taught me to value my time and energy. This will keep you encouraged when you’re overwhelmed with chances to do more and be in more places. I also learned how to move forward. This space is where I learned resilience, and this is a space everyone needs to be able to breathe and step into when life is pushing you elsewhere.
Most importantly, in this space, I learned how to fail and how important failing was.
Resilience is noted in the dictionary as the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties. It’s a skill that you have to develop, and the hardships will come to teach you just how important the skill is.
I don’t completely agree with recovering “quickly,” because everyone has their own pace. But you have to recover, and you have to bounce back before letting something defeat you.
I like to consider resilience as a battle skill or a “checkmate” on whatever move the game of life has played on you. It’s the secret strategy that you have to personally unlock by learning about yourself, the game you’re playing and how to best win at it.
It’s a different kind of joy you feel once you’ve beaten your current battle, but the fight isn’t always easy.
Learning to fail is key to succeeding in college. Once you recognize how necessary failing can be and how often failing can occur, your resilience will begin to form on its own.
“When you can fail well, the world opens up to you. There’s no challenge you can’t pursue, no risk you can’t take, because you know how to get back up when you’re knocked down,” said American author Rachel Smith. “When you can fail well, your self-worth doesn’t ride on your success. You know that you are enough as you are, no matter what—and don’t have to lose your sense of self when things don’t work out.”
It took me some time to move past my rough period during my freshman year, but I did much better on my next few exams, and I learned so much about myself in the process. I also use my resilience strategy every chance I get to move me forward into my next day. Because if it’s up to me, I’ll win every time.