Opinion: sometimes the key to success is failure

Accepting failure can be crucial to surviving the end of the semester

Anna Zwahlen, JagWire editor-in-chief, Mill Valley News editor-in-chief

While the end of the year can be a cause of celebration for staff and students alike, with holidays, breaks and plans for activities on the horizon, I can’t help but notice the cloud that hangs over it all. Exhaustion and burnout seem to spread as rapidly as the flu among students as the stress of finals looms over everyone. From my observation, the underlying cause seems to be the upset of balance that this time of year can cause in the lives of high schoolers who are busier than ever before. When that balance is upset, being successful 100% of the time becomes impossible, regardless of what sphere of life that success is in.

If anything, the end of the first semester is a time of sacrifice. Sleep, social life, hobbies and mental health are often the first to be dropped from the lives of most students, including myself. While allotting time to prioritize things like sleep, hobbies and friends is useful, sometimes what’s even more useful is to come to terms with the prospect of failure. I’ve had to hear it time and again: it’s ok to fail sometimes.

If anything, the end of the first semester is a time of sacrifice.

— junior Anna Zwahlen

The frantic rush to achieve the goals set for the semester is felt by everyone, especially the chronically exhausted high school students like me. Floods of assignments fill calendars and study sessions take on more erratic tones as the tests we prepare for carry heavier weights for our final grades.

Sure, semester finals is a stressful time, but really it’s the time when the pressures faced by high schoolers are put on full display. At this point in our lives, we have all had to learn balance. School, work, family and friends all have to be given a place in our lives, creating a very delicate balance. At this point in the year, the effort and energy needed to maintain that fragile equilibrium have been all but exhausted. Often, finals is the final straw that tips the scale, sending many students into a downward spiral of stress, sleep deprivation and poor coping mechanisms, which leads to failure in some sphere of life.

Not to say that you have to prepare yourself to fail a test, but you have to prepare yourself to fail to meet your goals. Forgetting a homework assignment, taking a rain check on social events and being late to work are all inevitable. Sometimes what is expected of you by everyone else simply isn’t coherent with your current abilities. When you can remember that and accept that failure isn’t the end of the world, you can approach this time of year, and times like it in your life, with more grace.

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