During my the first semester of my second year in University, I failed four out of five classes I was taking due to slacking off a lot. Those same classes were only available during the first semester of each year, which meant I could not retake them during the second semester or over the summer to catch up. So effectively, I had fallen one year behind everyone I knew.
When I got the news, it was devastating. Up until that time I had always been a pretty good student and I felt like I had always made my parents proud and happy. I did not know how I would tell them about it, I felt that I had failed them utterly. I knew I only had myself to blame as I had let most of these classes go by without paying much attention to them. Sometimes when you’re used to doing well academically all the time you might get lax and feel complacent and then you’re surprised to find out there’s a lot you haven’t picked up but it’s too late to catch up.
My parents were very understanding. My friends did not make fun of me or anything like that. I decided to take the failure for what it was – a failure – and simply learn from my mistakes and move on. I had to toughen up. I accepted that I would not be graduating on time, and that it was my own fault. I spent a semester under academic probation, but from that point onwards I did not fail any other classes, and I successfully graduated some years later, got a good job and so on.
Failure is a setback yes, but it’s a setback you can learn from and that you can recover from. Failure is not fatal (most of the time – obviously try not to fail at skydiving). As long as you can find a way to move forward there is no reason you would not be able to surpass it. In time you will look back on your failures as struggles that you learned from and made you stronger and more resilient
This post was originally written as a Quora response