I have always found success as easily measurable. Victory was an A, congratulations, or an award. That changed as soon as I came to college. I was two months into college when I dropped my first class and had my first taste of failure. My success train had derailed and was tumbling toward a cliff. It was as if my heart had stopped and there was no way to revive me.
I was crushed, physically and emotionally crushed. I had failed and for the first time failure was what seemed easily measurable.
I had no reason to feel this way I had failed many times in my short 18-year span on this planet. I had gotten F's and D's in classes in high school. Yet there was always a turn around a point where I could fix, exactly what had gotten me to that point.
This time there was no turnaround, no room to fix what I had done. I recognized this with my whole being and still refused to let go of the class. I kept thinking one more week, and it will be okay.
Shockingly if not, not so shockingly, it never was okay. I kept spiraling downward in the class, stressing about deadlines, and even showing up. The class had started causing me so much anxiety, that one night after missing one class I had a mental breakdown.
It was Wednesday night, the day after I had missed a class due to the flu. I had been relatively keeping up with syllabus as well. However, that night when I looked at the syllabus, I noticed a 4-page paper that was due the next day.
My breathing got ragged, and my heart started palpating. My eyes stung and were brimming with tears. I had gotten approximately two hours of sleep the night before, tossing and turning trying to breathe from being sick. I instantly felt my heart sink, knowing that I would never finish the paper in time for the class the next day.
The teacher had never talked us through how she wanted the paper organized, or what kind of citations were preferred. I was at a complete and utter loss. I spent two hours crying. I cried to my roommate, on the phone with my father, and with my sorority sisters.
It was at that time my roommate, and I thought it best if we left the dorm for a bit and came back later. It was on that drive to Walmart where I got my first piece of clarity. If I was not learning from this professor, then this class was not for me. I had to withdraw.
I walked in the next day to the advising office for a walk-in appointment and told them the story of the night before. Relaying each horrible detail of my first panic attack to the advisor. I felt a heavy weight lift off my shoulders when he explained why he was allowing me to withdraw from the class.
I left feeling as though I had failed miserably, but I had not. In fact, I have learned that as easy as it seems to measure success, it is just as hard to measure failure.
Failure has no tangible evidence. failure, in fact, is perceived. I had not failed by dropping that class. I simply said this isn't where I need to be right now, but I will succeed in getting this class done. I had not failed.
Dropping a class is not failing or the end of life. Dropping a class is just admitting this isn't good for you right now.