University is the time to make mistakes

We have so much to learn from our mistakes if we allow ourselves to make them

Failures in university are a good opportunity to learn. ILLUSTRATION: Maple Sukontasukkul / The Peak

by Brianna Condilenios, Peak Associate

When we arrive at university, we can feel full of starry-eyed, first-year anticipation. We are then thrust into the cosmic world of clubs to join, classes to take, people to meet, and volunteer opportunities to try to help keep our heads afloat amidst all this madness. It seems that the endless stream of possibilities never stops throughout university as opportunity after opportunity unfolds. This can bring excitement, but it can also be overwhelming. Because of this, more than a few of us are going to struggle, and that is okay. Actually, it is through these failures that students can learn and grow. 

A bad grade, a fumbled job interview, a romantic pursuit or relationship that puttered out, a rushed volunteer experience; these things can make us feel utterly low, or perhaps even guilty for not achieving what we wanted. Students shouldn’t feel positive about missteps like these; they should accept the natural sadness that comes with failure. In accepting these feelings, we give ourselves the space to work through the hiccups we encounter. It’s important to shed some tears, breathe some fresh air, and take all the time needed to recover. 

In giving ourselves this space, students can then reflect on why things did not work out as they imagined. The reason may have been a factor outside of their control, something that was a result of their individual action, or (often) a combination of both. For example, a student may have had a rushed volunteer experience because the way the event was organized, or maybe they were hurrying through it to be able to finish their school work. Maybe the student was not truly passionate about the volunteer position in the first place and just wanted to get it over with. 

The catch is, even though the volunteer experience was not successful, the student can still learn from it. They may now be more aware of what a healthier workload might look like. Or, have a better idea of what causes they are truly passionate about. Regardless, the student has a new found perspective that can help them navigate the sometimes turbulent waters of life. 

Students should also congratulate themselves for having the courage to plunge themselves into new situations. It is better than creating endless safety bubbles for ourselves, because ultimately exploring the unfamiliar is what is going to help us grow. We gain knowledge, experiences, and relationships from having the courage to leave our comfort zone to try new things. A club full of strangers that a student just signed up for might be where they make friends that last a lifetime over the bond of a shared hobby. A fascinating elective a student signs up for outside of their major might just start a fiery passion that guides their career aspirations. So what if there are a few mishaps along the way? 

Students are not just learning about themselves, but are growing as people through the bold strides they take. They shouldn’t beat themselves up over mistakes that they can learn from. If not now, when will they have the chance to stumble and rise even stronger?