on failing

Today I would like to write about failure.

As part of my master’s degree in statistics I have to take two comprehensive exams that cover two areas of stats, the theory and the methodology.
I spent this summer in Morocco and Europe doing an internship and although not studying for these exams every day 8 hours a day, I was preparing myself and studying the materials and past exams.   I was right on track with the schedule that we had set for the summer and although scared, I felt that I was doing all possible to prepare.
I came back to OR 2 weeks before the exams took place and would arrive to school sometimes as early as 5:30am (jetlag had a big role in this) to study for 7 hours straight.

I felt confident, but was by no means overconfident.

Yesterday I found out that I failed one of the two exams, and that I will have to spend this next quarter preparing for taking it again.

One of the things about failing is that your failure is open for everybody to see, study and assume. (And I am not helping it by writing about it online!)
So I would say that a high percentage of the frustration and sadness and disappointment comes entirely from  feeling humiliated and ashamed.  These feelings in turn invite feeling that question your self worth and esteem.
Another thing about failing this particular type of exams is that it will drag, it will drag for another 3 or 4 months while I struggle a full load of classes, plus my TA work – and the thought of the hours that will be spent preparing for it is just too overwhelming to think of without starting to shudder and shake in fear and panic.

I had my first sleepless night today.  I am sure many will follow.
I need to find ways to shape this experience into something that will teach me and help me grow, and not be shaped by it myself.
I am lucky to have a group of friends that are supportive and kind (thank your for the flowers and m&m’s and kleenex box!!) and a husband that is able to make me laugh even though the only thing I want to do is cry.

Today will be my first test, as I go to a department party at my chair’s house and present myself to all my professors and try not to feel judged and not to see fingers pointing at me accusing me of being the one that tried but couldn’t.  Instead, I will go talk to them, and ask for their advice, and make them see that I am not giving up without a fight, that I am trying, that I care.

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