aman atwal


All my life I have never quit anything. Every extracurricular, sport, class, was completed to the very end, whether or not I enjoyed it. To me failure was akin to quitting. I would’ve failed if I had quit. I’m not sure where this mindset came from but it was how I lived my life.

University has offered me two failures in my life. The first was a class in second year. March of second semester was horrible. I missed three weeks of classes due to a conference, a sinus infection, a concussion, and a severe allergic reaction resulting in two hospital trips. I was overloading courses that semester and with all of that going on it was too much. My mental health had deteriorated and my work load suffered. I completed everything but handed in one assignment too late and it cost me a grade. In May I saw the “F” and I didn’t know what to do with myself. That period of my life caused me a lot of duress and this grade summed up everything my anxious mind was telling me: I was a failure.

My second offering of failure happened while I was on exchange in England. Everyone talks about how amazing exchange is but honestly as much as I enjoyed it, I probably disliked it a little bit more. I missed home, I missed my family, I missed Canada. I couldn’t sleep, eating became a chore, and my mental health took a hit. I was anxious all the time and was just a total bummer to be around. I was supposed to stay until the end of April to travel but I ended up coming home at the beginning of April. I was debating whether or not I should quit and when I finally said yes to myself a weight was lifted off my shoulders. Everything was far from okay but I could at least breathe a little better.

Both instances made me feel like a failure. I had never failed a class and for awhile I couldn’t tell anyone. I kept pretending it was fine and I was so ashamed. With coming home from exchange early I was ashamed too. It felt like I was the only one who didn’t enjoy my experience; like I was an anomaly in a sea of people living their best life.

For me, with failure comes shame and I don’t know why they are connected because honestly it sucks. I know I’m not alone in how I was feeling but shame keeps me from speaking out. Now, when I feel like I might be failing something I ask myself is: who am I trying impress? The answer should be no one. Everyone has instances of failure but it’s hard to get the conversation going. For me, talking about my failures makes me feel really vulnerable but a dose of vulnerability is healthy so I try and challenge myself to talk to one or two people I know and trust. From there, hopefully I can make small changes within myself about the topic of failure. It’s a work in progress but I think bettering yourself always is.