Northern Iowan

Rest, if you must, but don’t quit

AHSAN KHAN, Opinion Columnist

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After another eventful semester, finals are upon us. Most social media posts are students complaining that they want to drop out, and the ever-famous “C’s get degrees” post is circulating around as well. However, despite all the complaints, there is a lack of space in the library. Students brave the cold to finish their semester on a high note so that they can breathe a sigh of relief over winter break. 

With such an atmosphere, it is easy to be stressed out. Therefore, there is also a rise in de-stress activities across campus. My favorite de-stress activity is the late breakfast at Rialto hosted by the President. There is something missing though. 

No one wants to acknowledge that we should give it our best shot, but if we fail, that is fine as well. I do realize that the cost of this can be significant. For some, it can mean pushing their graduation further, cancellation of federal aid or scholarships if GPA drops significantly, having to pay extra to retake a course and the disappointment of parents or peers. All of these are factors that I have personally faced. It is not a good feeling at all. The feeling that one has failed and one’s efforts haven’t amounted to anything is quite a miserable place to be in.  

Why is there such a stigma around failure? After all, the success stories that surround us consist of the same motto: if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Failure should be promoted and viewed in a constructive manner. Failing is not the end of things, but merely a signal that one needs to work harder in order to achieve goals. 

The stigma around failure affects our general well-being and our mental health. Both are important aspects of succeeding. As the saying goes, ‘health is wealth.’ Mental health is such an important issue on college campuses, but how much of it stems from the fear of failure is always ignored. 

Failure in college does not have to be solely about failing a class; it can consist of failing to keep up with personal relationships, failure to enroll in the class that is necessary for graduation, failure to maintain finances and so on. All of this is okay, however. There is a false sense of perfectionism that is promoted in our society, perpetuated by social media. All we see is happy people achieving one thing after the other and viewing ourselves as under-achievers or failures. 

The main thing that I have realized in my time at college is that everyone has their own time zone. President Obama left office at 55 years of age and President Trump came into office at 70 years of age. Thomas Edison made 1,000 unsuccessful attempts before he was actually successful with the light bulb. The famous Jack Ma was rejected by Harvard ten times but he still kept on going. So, if you have not graduated in four years that is okay. It might take you an extra semester or year, but you will still have made it. 

If you are failing a class this semester that is perfectly normal. It is merely a call that you need to pull up your socks and work harder next semester. Normal is not what your fellow peers do; it is what one does at their own time and capacity.

Take reflections from your failure as to what you have learned and how you cannot afford to fail the same way next time. College life or practical life does not have to be spent chasing perfection or a stacked-up resume to woo others, but rather should be spent chasing our full potential. Potential cannot be reached if we are afraid of failing. The drawbacks that we face in college are not the only ones that we will face – these are life-long at every step of the way. Accepting that we might fail at these and still come out on top is a more reasonable approach to take. 

Personally, I failed consistently from freshman to junior year, but I did not stop. I admitted my mistakes and formed plan after plan of how to succeed. It took a change in major and coming to terms with my abilities to realize that my potential lay elsewhere. The biggest factor in my newfound success is that I have faced so many failures already that I can ignore my next biggest failure and bulldoze on until I encounter the next one. 

On that very thought, I leave you with an excerpt from a poem by Edgar Guest. Good luck with your finals and to those graduating: welcome to the practical field of life. 

 ‘When Things go wrong, as they sometimes will,

When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,

When the funds are low and debts are high,

And you want to Smile but have to sigh.

When care is pressing you down a bit,

Rest, if you must, but don’t you quit.’

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2 Responses to “Rest, if you must, but don’t quit”

  1. Jehangir jadoon on December 6th, 2018 9:11 pm

    Really encouraging and finally admitting what went wrong and what is the way forward. Best of luck.

  2. Usman aziz on December 8th, 2018 10:19 am

    Golden words you’ve said right there!

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Rest, if you must, but don’t quit