Dear Students: It’s Perfectly Okay To Flame Out.
It’s been over 20 years since I’ve had to sit an exam, so it’s almost long enough for me to forget the hysterical run up to Christmas: Cramming, caffeine, not sleeping - and not eating anything because I didn’t want to have a spastic bowel going in to a three hour hostage taking. Oh, and thinking the world was going to end if I didn’t keep my average over a 3.8.
I am 43 years old. I’ve got a wonderful life, I’ve got a great career. And I’ve flunked out, I’ve withdrawn, I’ve run out of an exam and ruined my grade because I didn’t want to barf on my paper or shit my knickers.
I’ve had narcissistic profs make me think that their class Is The Be All And End All, that if I fail at college that I’ll fail at life and have no future.
And it’s total and complete bullshit. Yeah, an education is important, but no one cares how you got there. Exams are re-takeable, courses are re-doable, profs can be replaced.
YOU, HOWEVER, CANNOT BE REPLACED. All caps, because I cannot emphasize it enough. There are a zillion interchangeable classes and universities and exams and professors… but there is only one you.
I know a lot of you following me are both young and have a tendency towards depression and anxiety. And I want you to know that I, too, have flamed out, flunked something, even gotten booted out of a class. Or three.
I’ve never - not even once - been asked in a job interview why I failed anthropology so spectacularly… Or why the pathetic asshole of a “professor” teaching “Visual Design and Layout” or whatever the fuck that journalism course was called flipped his shit on me and kicked me out.
Not once, not ever. Out here in The World? No one will ask. No one cares about those details or what you took to get your mandatory Science credit.
What did impact me was the kindness shown to me, the strangers who helped me out, who let me melt down and helped me find my feet after. How to recover.
I learned to get broadsided, I learned to manage, I learned to keep down my lunch, and I learned that it will all be okay. And THAT is the shit you need out here in the world.
If you’re on the verge of shattering, call for help. Call your student centre, your doctor, go to the hospital if you feel in any way suicidal.
Blowing an academic gasket happens. It is not the end of the world, despite what it feels like. I promise you, this is not the end. This is the beginning.
Take a deep breath and do what you need to do - even if it is a do-over. It can all be fixed, one way or another.