Throughout your VCE studies, failure or disappointment is inevitable. Whether it be a disappointing SAC mark, a stuff up in a solo music performance, or an unsatisfactory passing grade for a test, these misfires have the ability to eat away at you and leave you feeling despondent for days, or even weeks. Believe me, I had my share of disappointments throughout VCE. I was ill equipped to deal with them, letting them affect me like a poison up to the point where I broke down at the dinner table one day after my third consecutive bad SAC mark for one of my subjects, convinced that I was going to fail the entire year. Now hopefully none of you will let these, what I now realise were, small bumps in the road trip you over and leave you face down on the ground like I did.
Eventually, I was able to move past these ‘failures’ and learn how to better face them, and in that I was able to pinpoint three key things that I had failed to do the first time:
Don’t hide it
This is not to say that you should announce to the world that you received 2% on your Maths test (but by all means, if you would like to, no one is stopping you). Essentially, your results are your own and you should not feel obligated to share them with others if you do not wish to, especially your more non impressive ones. However, there is a difference between not sharing it and hiding it; trying to pretend that if you don’t acknowledge it fully, it didn’t really happen. I made the mistake of hiding my poor results, ashamed and embarrassed by them. In an attempt to mask my dejection, I acted as if nothing was wrong or passed it off as nothing serious when questioned by others (although I was actually crying inside). Eventually, when I broke down at the dinner table my family was surprised because they had no idea I was struggling at all.
In essence, you don’t have to fully disclose the extent of your struggle to others, just don’t keep your frustrations bottled up and building inside you. Let someone know that you’re having trouble because there’s no use trying to downplay how you’re feeling about a particular disappointing result; it’s better to acknowledge your poor performance and receive support, than to hide it along with your anxiety and concerns. They will only build up and negatively affect your performance in subsequent tasks. It was only when I finally expressed my concerns about the bad SAC scores, and began seeking help, that I was able to begin performing better.
Don’t dwell on it
When you receive a bad mark, it may seem like the end of the world, and you begin to question what the point of working is anymore when you’re going to fail at the end of the year anyway. Especially if the disappointing result was from a test that you thought you had performed well in and studied hard for, the poor mark can catch you off guard and leave you feeling very discouraged and pessimistic (cue Coldplay’s ‘Fix You’).
However upsetting the result may be, it is important to not dwell on it for too long. Sure, you may not have performed as well as you’d hoped, but there is nothing you can do about it now; there is no use holding on to something you cannot change. Harbouring the negative feelings can be detrimental to not only your performance in following assessments, but to your mental and emotional health. So move past it; chances are that you’ll realise that the less than impressive results were not such a big deal after all.
Take it as a learning opportunity
Once you’ve been able to move past the bad SAC mark, or sub-par performance, you should reflect upon it. Not in a despairing, ‘I-did-so-badly-what-is-the-point’ way, but in a, ‘what-did-I-do wrong-and-how-can-I-fix-it?’ way. A bad result is a perfect way to identify the gaps in your knowledge, and lays a good foundation for improvement. For example, if you received an unsatisfactory score for a Methods SAC on the topic of ‘functions’, you can review your test paper and find out the key points that you need to revise before the end of year exam so that you do not make the same mistakes.
By taking your ‘failures’ throughout the year as a learning opportunity, there is a high chance you will come out successful at the end of the year. In my case, I was able to attain a good study score for the subject I was struggling in at the beginning of the year despite my poor performances in the first few SACs. Once I was able to get over the initial dejection, I reviewed the content in those SACs, even re-did some of the questions I had gotten wrong to show myself that I did have the capability to complete them correctly. By the time I walked through the doors to my end of year exam, I felt confident that I was going to be okay after all, something I didn’t think was possible after getting back that first SAC mark.
So yes, the journey through VCE is far from a smooth ride; the road is riddled with obstacles and you’re bound to encounter some disappointment or failure along the way. The impact of these failures can be crushing and may leave you feeling very incapable, but just remember to —
Acknowledge it, don’t dwell on it and learn from it,
— and you might find that you’re capable of so much more than those scores tell you.
- Written by Anna :>