We Shouldn’t Be Ashamed of Failure

…so long as you’ve given it 100%.


I was a high achieving student in high school – I graduated as the top girl in my grade with the highest possible exit ranking. I used this to land a position in the Bachelor of Veterinary Science program at a good university – a very difficult and challenging course.

All seemed smooth enough while I was beginning – I wasn’t expecting high distinctions all round, but I was happy with distinctions or credits. My marks didn’t begin the best, no matter how hard I tried, but things really hit home in the first exam period, where one exam was much more difficult than expected. I passed with a credit overall, but it scared me to think that failing a subject was a real possibility despite my results in high school.

Second semester rolled around, and it was much tougher with higher expectations and a higher fail rate. In week 5, I failed my first test – worth only 7% of my final grade – despite studying for days beforehand. I was disappointed in myself and insanely upset. In week 10, I failed my first assignment due to my own mistake of answering the wrong questions. In week 12, I forgot to put my name on a lab report and markers couldn’t locate it, resulting in 0%. Despite all of this, though, I was still sitting on a 75% average leading into the final exams.

The first exam was a practical anatomy test, which I felt okay about. It was challenging and nerve racking, but I passed overall. The final exam was my only opportunity to pass the second component of the subject, physiology – which I needed to pass to pass overall.

The exam was certainly tough, and a lot of people struggled. I came out of it passing anatomy, but failing physiology by a small amount, earning me a second chance in the form of a second exam a few months later.

In the gap between the first and second exam, I realized that even though the first exam had all us vet students asking for help in our Facebook group, I heard absolutely nothing regarding a second chance exam. No one posted anything, possibly out of feeling ashamed of the mark they had received. Admittedly, I was afraid to reach out too – afraid that my classmates would judge me for not passing the first exam, and afraid that I would be close to the only one who had failed. So I didn’t post anything.

I didn’t post anything despite having given my all to the first exam. I gave it everything I had, I studied every moment I could, yet I didn’t get the result I wanted. Why should I be ashamed of that? It’s not like I slacked off. It’s not like I didn’t focus during the exam. I gave it 100%.

I shouldn’t be ashamed of trying my best. I shouldn’t be afraid to let other people know that I failed a test. I should be proud of the effort I gave, and be prepared to figure out where I went wrong. I should get over it and move on. After all, I gave up sleep, fun and relaxation for that test. I sacrificed, yet fate wasn’t on my side when it came to the types of questions asked on the exam.

It happened. I failed. I learned from it.

I’m not going to be ashamed and I can’t blame anyone but myself.

I completed the second exam yesterday and am awaiting the result. If I pass, I continue to second year. If I don’t, I have to repeat first year or reconsider my options.

But you know what? I tried my best the entire time. And that’s what really matters.

Sarah May xxx
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