Column: Why is the fear of failure so prevalent in high school?

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Column: Why is the fear of failure so prevalent in high school?

Halloween may be quickly approaching, but for many high school students it is not the scary movies, stories or costumes that haunt them in their sleep. Rather, it is one simple thing: failure.

For many high schoolers, simply the fear of failing is more terrifying than failure itself. A high school student might balance several different things on their plate at one time, such as grades, sports, clubs and even relationships.

Pressures on academic achievement are high, especially as the idea of college grows closer for many. With tests such as the ACT being used to measure a student’s readiness for college, or finals being used to determine one’s knowledge of a course, academics can hold a lot of gravity for a student. In fact, the average U.S. high school student completes about 17.5 hours of homework a week.

While encouraging a student to succeed may be a positive motivator for some, this kind of pressure often leads to the thought process that failing is not acceptable. According to The Telegraph, if a student becomes too stressed out due their academics, it can lead to mental illnesses such as anxiety or depression. With the expectations of getting a high-paying job, some may believe that the only way to get there is by never failing. But failure may not be as horrible as it sounds.

There is a balancing act with the fear of failure; one needs to be motivated to succeed, but also recognize that failure is a learning experience. Brent Terada, a social worker at NNHS, understands that failure does have its benefits.

“Fear of failure isn’t a bad thing…I think a lot of times it drives you to be better,” Terada said.

Terada is one who recognizes that failure can be used to inspire and turn around a seemingly negative event. There are steps that need to be taken to help ensure that failure can be channeled into future growth.

Taking a step back from the mistake to look at where it went wrong can help one improve for the next attempt. Preoccupation with the fear of failure is often where students stumble, particularly since fear prevents one from absorbing the bigger picture and gathering a comprehensive grasp of an event or situation. If one becomes too caught up in negative emotions, it can block the logical part of the brain. This may prevent analysis of a situation that can better gather where there may have been a mistake and figure out a way in which to improve.

Failure can be seen as a wall blocking success, or it can be seen as the stepping stones to success. Utilizing strategies — such as trying not to get too emotional over a situation or trying to think everything through — can allow an easy path to success. So, there is only a fear of failure if we chose to be afraid of it — just like the horrors of Halloween.

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