It’s been almost half a year now since I first was told I would no longer be able to continue my studies at Berkeley due to poor grades. The news surprisingly didn’t effect me much at the time. I had made poor grades for the past two years; I had almost known since I got in that I was going to fail. Now, don’t get me wrong, I had wanted to go to Berkeley since I was 14, and I loved being there in many ways. I didn’t fail on purpose by any means. So why did I fail enough classes to ultimately be dismissed from the college? Here are the two main reasons I feel had a large part in why I was unable to succeed in my time at Berkeley:
Well first off I’d like to thank genetics. Depression has run in my family for many generations, so I have a predisposition to develop it. After going in to the doctors for this very reason, I confirmed then, and have confirmed now, that I was most likely experiencing major depression during my two years at Berkeley. Having said that, it’s also important to know that simply knowing you have depression does not by any means make you well again magically. The process (as it was for me) is often a long process of trial and error with medications and various forms of therapy and counseling sessions to find what works. While this in itself is very time consuming and arduous, imagine attempting to do well in one of the hardest college programs around at the same time. That was my life.
The second reason has close ties to the first, but I feel it deserves a bit of its own limelight. I was disorganized with every facet of my self. I was often late to appointments or classes, I had no real calendar that I kept so I would often forget important dates, I never knew what to focus on, I could rarely focus due to how disorganized my surrounding were, and my mental state was completely disorderly (yay depression!). So obviously there was one solution right? Get my shit together! Well, it’s not always that simple. The feelings of depression would put me in moods every now and then where I would give up on everything and recede into myself for up to a week. This is where much of my disorganization came from, as during these times I wouldn’t bother to organize any part of my life. So during the times where I realized what was wrong and why I was doing poorly I would attempt to organize, but it would never be enough. This leads me to the first of three things I learned by failing during my time at Berkeley.
Organization is a Constant Effort
What I mean by this is, organization requires you to make it a part of your everyday life to be effective. You can’t have one week where you organize everything, and the next you are in complete disarray, and expect to have a productive lifestyle. In my experience, it just doesn’t work that way. You spend more time organizing things you managed to mess up during the time you weren’t bothering, than you spend actually reaping the benefits or leading a well organized life. It’s like taking one step forward and two steps back towards a goal; you’ll simply never reach it. Which brings me to the second thing I learned.
Keep Your Eye on the Prize
While this seems obvious, most people begin a journey with a set goal, only to lose sight of this once some time passes. Don’t get me wrong, altering your goals to better fit what you truly want in life is fine. People change! What I’m referring to here isn’t a simple change in a goal, I’m referring to losing sight of your goal entirely. This is what happened to me. I began questioning why I was working towards the end goal of graduating. Was it really what I wanted? The truth is, it was. I just had so many other things going on in my mind that weren’t beneficial to my health or well-being to be able to focus on myself in a positive way. My advice for myself looking back would have been: it doesn’t matter if you truly want to graduate or not right now! A large part of your life you’ve wanted to, and only recently have you begun doubting yourself about it! Just do it, put in the work, finish what you started, and if after it’s finished you decide you want to focus on something else, go for it. You’ll at least have the positive benefits from finishing your goal if you ever decide to go back to that area of focus. Which brings me to the third thing I learned.
Self Doubt Should Not Run Your Life
“Our doubts are traitors,
and make us lose the good we oft might win,
by fearing to attempt.” – William Shakespeare
This one seems obvious, but at the time I was consumed with the thought that I couldn’t accomplish what I wanted to accomplish. Operating off of self doubt doesn’t allow for progress, because you’re always doubting that you can move forward. I can’t emphasize enough how absolutely damaging this is to being able to achieve goals, and to a healthy lifestyle in general. Instead, fill your life with an “I can do it!” mentality. Even if you really can’t, and you end up failing, you learn more from the experience. You’ll be able to grow either way, whereas with a mentality of self doubt you would simply say “I knew it” when failure occurs, and sink deeper into thought that you can’t accomplish what you want to.
While I can’t say without a doubt that implementing these things I’ve learned would have guaranteed my getting a degree from Berkeley, I can say that I would have had much more success than I did. From now on I hope to foster these positive changes in my life so I can begin moving forward towards what I want to do in life. I plan on returning to Berkeley to finish my degree and hope that this new mindset, along with other positive changes, will help me to complete my studies there. I hope if you’re experiencing similar setbacks in life that this post helps you to begin to overcome them in some way. Let me know if you have any other advice, or how this advice helped you if it has, below in the comments section! 🙂