Failure and rejection doesn’t have to mean that you have failed as a person

Failure doesn’t have to mean failure by Sarah Keeping- guest blogger.

Ever failed a driving test? Yep, I have. Twice. But I’m not talking about things you can easily re-take. I’m talking about things you invest a lot of time and effort in for it to come to nothing.

I started at university the first year tuition loans came in – so for anyone who went to university before this, my degree cost a lot of money. For any current students, my degree cost peanuts. But I was told in my second year that now ‘everyone’ has a degree, you should do a Masters to make sure you get a job over other candidates. I believed this to be the case and so in my final year I applied to do a Masters course and was accepted. I remember someone on my course saying how they were done with studying and couldn’t believe that I wanted to do more. But I did. I didn’t know what else to do so studying more would surely be the best thing?

I really enjoyed my Masters year, but when it came to doing my dissertation, I had lost all motivation for it. Maybe it was the topic, maybe it was because I still didn’t know what I was going to do after graduating.

One October morning, I was just about to leave for work (a retail job near my home) and my friend text me to say our grades had been released and were on the university system. I had a few minutes before I really had to leave so I thought I’d quickly check. Under the ‘dissertation’ column it said ‘F’. I thought, what does ‘F’ mean? It meant FAIL. I walked to work in a daze.

I’d never failed a subject in my life. I was so disappointed. I had the option to re-submit but I couldn’t face the prospect of re-doing a dissertation and not graduating with my friends. I decided to take the lower grade award and reassess.

For three years, I stayed in my retail job just wondering what I should do. At 18, I had naively thought that Psychology was all about the brain and therefore very science focused (I hated science at school) so I didn’t choose to study that at university. I got to 25 and thought, what have I got to lose? I applied to do a Psychology conversion course and was accepted. Two years later I was receiving my certificate at my graduation. Brilliant. What’s next? A Masters?

I applied to do a Masters course again and was accepted. For one year, if I wasn’t working I was reading for or writing an assignment. Then came the dissertation. I chose a subject that I was passionate about and really cared about. That was the difference. I was also extremely focused on history not repeating itself. In many ways, this course was also a righting a wrong. I don’t give up, I never fail (in the long run, anyway).

It’s easy to say this now, but I do think that it’s good to experience failure. Whatever you fail at, it spurs you on to try and never go through that feeling again. It definitely helped me – I was very happy walking across the stage as my name was read out at my graduation, having passed my Masters. With Distinction.

*Sarah Keeping is currently undertaking a Counselling Skills course in London and is looking to change her professional subject area to Counselling Psychology. Previous qualifications are in Investigative Psychology, Psychology, Applied Criminology, and Criminology and Sociology.

Follow Sarah on twitter at @SKeeping_Psych

Moving to another country is an experience to enjoy the present.

Moving to another country: an experience to enjoy the present.
By Citlalli Degollado*.

The first time I moved to another country was 8 years ago, I was 22 years old with a lot of emotions and expectations for the new adventure. Everything was new for me, I was decided to say goodbye to all my life back home: security, family, friends, comfort zone, everything that I knew was gone, and it was just me, my baggage, my flight ticket and all my dreams to live in France. I was there for 10 months, and although I can say today that it was one of the most exciting experiences that I have ever had, the path I had to walk was not always that easy. At the beginning I felt scared and nervous, I didn’t speak French and it was the first time I lived far from my family. The months passed and little by little I learned to speak French, the culture and the way of life. I still missed my country and all my life there, but at the same time I was enjoying the scenery, the weather and why not? All the uncertainty, not knowing anything about what was going to happen. Now, 8 years later, I am 30 years old and I left my country for the second time, in another situation but with the same dreams. After new experiences, there is a moment when you understand that change is inevitable and sometimes necessary, when the fear moves you instead of blocking you, like a spring that pushes you up and helps you to continue.

So, what happens when somebody moves to another country? First, it is important to know that it is a change, and as every change we live, there are many emotions present in this process: fear, nervousness, uncertainty, euphoria, happiness and hope, among others. Psychologically, this change is like a grief, because we say goodbye to life as we know it and we go through different stages, such as excitement, sadness, fear, one emotion after the other. When we move to another country, at the beginning it is the honeymoon, in this moment everything is perfect, we are excited about the new life, what moves us is the novelty and the desire to discover. After some weeks, the cultural shock shows up, the new way of life is not exciting, we have to learn some new rules and habits, and things like the food, the language and the weather start to have some influence in our physical and emotional body. But life continues and we keep going, after some months, we start to adjust ourselves to this new life and that includes trying to insert ourselves to activities and to meet new people. Maybe they won’t be as special as our friends back home, or maybe they will, but they will definitely help us feel accompanied, with someone to share time, feelings, thoughts, and to learn from the other. Finally, we arrive to the last stage, the adaptation is done, when we understand that even if we are not at our place, our identity is still with us, we can learn and change some things but the essential stays, it is an integration between who we are and all the things that we have lived.

Although the adaptation process is something everyone will live, each person will experience it differently and according to their situation, context and emotional and personal resources. For example, it will not be the same for someone who moves away with her family because of a job opportunity, with certain economic security, than to someone who is fleeing her country due to a social conflict. In any case, it is important to have in mind that adapting to a new socio-cultural context implies walking through different moments that require emotional work. Understanding that it is a process, a path and not the destiny, helps to enjoy it more and take advantage of the moment.

“Since we just have the present, let’s live it as best as we can.”

*Citlalli Degollado is Gestalt Psychotherapist.
She works with adults and couples.
Currently she lives in Brighton, and she is giving psychotherapy to Spanish people.

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