5 things dropping out of college taught me (aka how to cope with failure)

If you didn’t know already, I dropped out of my first college.

I know. Shocking. It was probably one of the hardest times of my life, but as I always do, I bounced back from it. And here are 5 things I learned from being a professional-stay-at-home-unemployed-useless-piece-of-crap when I was 19 (and how these things helped me later in life, as I failed many more time after that).

People will judge you, but not for long

When I came home from college, defeated and depressed, it felt like everyone was talking about me. It got so bad that for almost two months, I couldn’t even leave my room. But guess what? People were busy. The only people who care about you super-deeply, 24/7, are yourself + your mom.

Realizing this gave me a sense of freedom.

Sure, it was annoying when my mom’s friends asked me, “So when are you going back to school?” ( x 25 friends per week, omg), but when I saw that they didn’t actually care all that much, I started to worry way less about how others saw me.

It’s true. Don’t worry about what others think — because they’re not thinking about you.

Your identity can be drawn from other things

When you’re 19, not belonging to a school feels foreign and frightening because that’s how you’ve been conditioned to see yourself all these years. I felt like I had no value because I didn’t know where I fit in. But thankfully, I re-discovered my place in my family. I had been away at boarding school for four years, so re-connecting with my parents as a daughter helped me feel secure again (TBH, I fought with my mom so much during this time, that it felt like I was going through puberty all over again, but it was all good in the end).

Me trying to fight my mom

Count the little victories

Simplest tasks can become nearly impossible when you’re feeling down. Like getting out of bed. Eating a normal meal with people. My first small victory was getting out of my room, going downstairs, and watching TV with my parents. Then then following week, I went outside for a walk. I learned that no, I can’t magically feel 100% better overnight, apply to colleges, and resume normal life, but I could put pants on in the morning and take my dog for a walk for half an hour. It’s the little things.

Tip: Having a dog helps when you’re feeling down because just look at them! So stupid and cute.

Turn off Facebook

This was hard. I talked to almost no one from high school because they all seemed to be enjoying their first year of college, and here I was, rotting away in failure and defeat. I would sit and stalk people on Facebook and wallow in jealousy and sorrow. But years later, I found out that many of my friends (the ones I thought were doing perfectly fine) were also struggling in other ways. All I needed to do was pick up the phone and call them.

Don’t trust what social media say about others’ lives and feel worse about your own. If you must, deactivate.

Facebook is the devil when it comes to comparing yourself to others. Stop it.

Remember — your story is not over

Looking back now — over a decade later — that one year of my life was such a small little hiccup. But of course, while I was going through it, it felt like I would never recover, that my time would never be redeemed, like the darkness would last forever.

It’s cheesy, but it gets better, it really does. Your story is over only if you give up. As long as you stay alive another day, you’re still writing your story.


 

Gosh, I am so deep today. I learn so much from myself.

Just kidding. But really. Reminding myself of how I got through some tough times help me put things into perspective. No struggle lasts forever.

What failures have you experienced and how did you cope with it? What advice do you have for people who are going through struggles right now?

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Alice

3 thoughts on “5 things dropping out of college taught me (aka how to cope with failure)

  1. Right now I feel like a failure because I haven’t been able to find a new job and it’s been months. It’s interesting the places from where people derive their sense of self-worth and value. These days I feel like dead weight and I feel lost because it doesn’t seem like I am doing anything with my life. Even though I know I’m just in a funk and in the future I’ll look back and be glad that I did something so brave as quit a job that wasn’t for me in order to pursue a happier and more fulfilling life, it’s hard to stay positive and resilient at the present. It’s my struggle everyday, but the fact that I’m struggling means I’m far from given up, so I’ll cling onto that belief there’s something better for me coming. Thanks for this 🙂

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    1. Thanks for the comment! I also quit my awful job last year, only to find myself feeing anxious and sad because I couldn’t find the right job for the next 9 months! It gets better. You will make it. One day at a time, right? Your struggle will be something that you give you more strength down the road!!

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      1. Haha I heard people tell me 6 months, 10 months, and now 9 months! Gah! Thanks 🙂 btw this is Annie! I love your blog. I’m glad to hear you’re doing better now.

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