Photo from linkedin.com
By Jen Cooper
This is the third article in a series of weekly blogs that I have been writing about how I cope with my mental illness. In this article, I will talk about how I deal with failure: how it affects my mental state and how my mental state affects my success in certain things. In my two previous articles, Depression and Anxiety in College and Confessions Of A Struggling Student: Socioeconomic Status, I give a general overview to what I deal with and more specifically in the latter, how my socioeconomic status plays into my issues.
Lately, I have had a string of what felt like serious failures. I did not get things I tried out for, and as someone who struggles with perfection and never feels good enough, it sucked. I have this overwhelming anxiety to be perfect; so I over-prepare, arrive unbelievably early to things, and overthink everything. On my days where my depression rules over my anxiety, I am so tired and I have no energy to prepare. Then the anxiety kicks in, and I come to know my terrible fear of failure.
It is a terrible cycle, really. I wake up, too depressed to do anything. Then I get anxious because I feel like I am unable to do anything. Next, I over-compensate and freak out. Then, if I fail, I go back to depression. Catch 22: even if I do not fail and I succeed, that is just another thing for me to feel anxious and worry about.
Failure is normal. It is an inevitable part of life. But no success ever feels legitimate enough for me. Nothing ever feels like enough, and I just have to keep pushing and pushing myself to do more and be better and be perfect. I take every failure hard.
With my recent failures, it felt like I was good, but not good enough. I followed up with the people in charge to find out why I was not good enough, and for the most part, it was not my fault. There was really nothing I could have done. I will not go into specifics, but in some ways, this is worse. I feel powerless that there is nothing I can work on or do next time to better myself.
It is hard to balance the line between self-confidence and egotism. At what point does confidence turn into arrogance? Everyone wants to be successful and talk about how great they are, but when is it too much?
I feel as if my issues are a burden to talk about. Last week, I freaked out because I felt like I was not good enough at writing and emailed my professor frantically. HELP, read the subject. I went on about how I have lost all of my talent, and I cannot do anything well enough. My professor send back a list of books to help me improve myself. It made me feel like I was not powerless. But now it was on me.
There is no way to win in my head. Powerlessness is frustrating. Responsibility is frustrating. But I still keep pushing myself keep trying, even when I fail. I’m trying to learn from my failure. Except, in a way, it should not be considered failure, because I am learning. In my good, anxiety and depression-free moments, I remind myself to keep my head up and work on what I am capable of.
Sometimes I cannot stop the endless loops in my head shouting “failure, failure.” But, the support of my friends and family helps sometimes.