Going to college is an exciting adventure that can be both a demanding and rewarding experience. For many, it is the first time living away from home while juggling challenging coursework plus a job or extracurricular. On top of all that, there are usually seemingly impossible deadlines with no wiggle room. It's easy to feel overwhelmed in these situations, but it will pay off in the end if you put forth the effort and don't give up. One of the most important attitudes is perseverance, which is crucial if you want to succeed in college. Why is perseverance important?

What Is Perseverance

Perseverance is getting back up when life knocks you down with a bit of grit and determination in your pockets and a willingness to try once more. It means not giving up before you reach the finish line and having the strength to put one foot in front of the other, even when the odds seem insurmountable. Ultimately, perseverance is about being confident in your abilities and trusting that you'll find a way through if you persist. 

Experiencing Setbacks

Setbacks happen to us all, and while they may feel like they're the end of the world at first, it's worth remembering that failure is just part of life — and pivotal in our learning and development. It can be difficult not to get discouraged when a setback occurs; no one likes wasted effort. But remember, picking yourself up and pushing forward is how you truly grow. So the next time you face disappointment, don't allow it to drag you down – instead, use it as an opportunity to build strength and resilience.

It's OK to Struggle

As a college student, feeling like you're constantly struggling is relatively par for the course. It's perfectly normal to feel a bit overwhelmed from time to time. Take a step back and assess what really matters - your health, your friendships, and your studies - and prioritize those things over the anxiety of what you haven't done yet. Overcoming struggles can be enriching, leading to greater self-awareness and accomplishments. It's OK if you hit a roadblock sometimes – it's all part of the adventure!

Straight Lines Are Boring 

Taking the direct route to a goal might seem like the logical, expedient thing to do — after all, why meander around if you can go straight there? But some of life's most significant discoveries are made when we choose to deviate somewhat from the path we thought we needed to take. Straying off the beaten trail is how you make mistakes and learn valuable lessons that may propel you further on your journey than if you had stayed on your original course. It may be true that straying from the direct route takes longer — but it is this process of self-discovery that leads to real growth.

Stop. Breathe. Reflect. 

When life seems overwhelming, or the struggle feels too much, remember to pause, step back, and challenge your assumptions and preconceived notions. A difficult situation can quickly overwhelm us and seem unbearable, yet it's important to remember that we can take control of our turbulent thoughts. When faced with a challenge, instead of allowing yourself to get caught in the riptide of your feelings, make a conscious effort to step back and breathe. Give yourself a moment to pause from the chaos and reflect on your current circumstances. Take the time to glance through the situation from different perspectives, including those outside your immediate worldview. You may discover a solution staring right at you or realize things aren't quite as dire as they may appear at first glance.

Set a Timeline for Disappointment, Then Move Forward

Giving yourself time and space is vital to process negative thoughts and feelings like disappointment when you fail at something or are struggling. After all, not acknowledging them would be turning a blind eye to reality - and how can we keep going if we don't properly address what's happening? Don't beat yourself up for being disappointed; likewise, don't wallow in self-pity. Dedicate a set amount of time to letting your feelings out, and then face forward and proceed with renewed determination and, hopefully, having learned something valuable from the experience.

Turning Your "Failures" into Success 

Life is a constant journey of learning from our mistakes. When we experience failure in any aspect of life, it can feel like a setback and cause us to feel frustrated and worried about our future. However, the truth is that failures offer a chance for growth and empowerment. Learning from failures can provide valuable insight that will push us to be wiser and more successful. That doesn't mean mistakes need to be celebrated - instead, view them as an opportunity to learn something new, no matter how hard it may feel when it's happening. 

Create the Right Mindset 

If your biggest fear is failure, you're not alone. Fortunately, there's a way to train yourself to think differently and make failure work in your favor. Instead of allowing it to drag you down into self-pity and despair, reframe it as an opportunity for growth and progress. Understand that each failure presents a learning experience from which you can draw valuable lessons, set new goals, and create better plans for the future. With this outlook in mind, start viewing even the most minor failures as teaching moments instead of debilitating defeats. Soon, you'll be well on your way to turning those "losses" into wins and achieving success.

Expand Your Timeline 

It's perfectly acceptable to change your plans and expand your timeline. If you've ever worked on a major project or hired a contractor to work in your home, you're already aware that timelines are more of an aspiration than anything. Having a timeline in place can help drive you to keep progressing, but don't be so rigid that you view any deviation as a failure. Sometimes we underestimate how long things will take; sometimes, life throws us unforeseeable curveballs. Expand your timeline and cut yourself, and the universe, some slack.

Step Out of Your Comfort Zone 

Make a habit of stepping out of your comfort zone. The more often you expand your boundaries, the more frequently you will inevitably slip up, mess up, and stumble. And that's great! Like anything else, learning to make the most of failure takes practice. The more you open yourself to new experiences, the more gracefully you will learn to face setbacks - and the more you'll glean from the learning opportunities!

Don't Waste Your "Failures"

The only way your failures will waste your time is if you neglect to learn from them. The only way to never encounter failure is to never try anything, and that's no way to go through life. Do you realize that a majority of scientific discoveries and technological innovations throughout history are the direct result of repeated failures? Many of the best inventions are the result of mistakes - even the discovery of penicillin was an accident! Keep this in mind and use it as motivation next time you hit a brick wall or feel like giving up.

How to Persevere

Perseverance can seem like an elusive concept that only the greats are capable of achieving. To some, it may appear that these greats were born with a superhuman spirit or drive that no one else can relate to. However, the truth is that perseverance is simply a choice anyone can make for themselves - you have to decide how badly you want it. So how can you practice perseverance in your life?

Practice What You Preach

Don’t be like Alice in Wonderland, giving very good advice but seldom following it. How would you respond if a friend came to you with a struggle, expressing feelings of doubt and indicating a desire to throw in the towel? There will always be exceptions (maybe your friend who lost their taste buds really can't succeed as a professional taste tester). Still, in most cases, you would be naturally inclined to encourage them and cheer them on. Next time you're feeling down on yourself, try imagining what you'd say to a friend in the same situation. Be your own cheerleader! You deserve to speak to yourself with the same kindness you show your loved ones, after all.

Seek Support

Positive self-talk and belief are easier said than done, and what better way to bolster your shift in mindset than the support and encouragement of those around you? Find friends and family members who are supportive of you and your journey. Share your doubts and fears and really listen to their feedback. They should be rooting for your success, so when they tell you, "you can do this," believe them! They might even be able to help in more practical ways. For example, if you're struggling to make it to classes on time because your dog needs an afternoon walk, see if a friend could help out a few days a week.

Reframe Your "Failure" and Regain Control

As we've mentioned, viewing failures as learning opportunities is vital to overcoming them and finding success, no matter the situation. This mental reframing is essential to regaining control of your narrative. A person who signs up for classes in subjects that don't come naturally to them isn't a failure if they struggle with the course material - they're brave for facing something they know will be a challenge. If they seek the additional support they need to pass the class, they're demonstrating resilience and fortitude, not to mention gaining the sense of accomplishment that comes with overcoming difficulty. Shifting your perspective won't always be easy, but if you consciously try to do so, it's a surefire way to regain control in college.

Show Up Even When You Don't Want To

When the going gets tough, it can be tempting to call it quits. It's natural to gravitate toward the path of least resistance, but this would be a mistake. You must show up and give your all, even when everything tells you to quit. When you reach the other side, you'll be stronger for it and fortified with the knowledge that you are capable.

Don't Struggle Alone - CHCP's Wellbeing Program is Here to Help

At The College of Health Care Professions (CHCP), we understand that sometimes external support is necessary, and we want you to know that we are here for you. Our Wellbeing Program, NexGen, offers free assistance and resources to all CHCP students. With counseling services, legal and financial consultations, health advocacy, and more, we're sure to provide something to help you overcome setbacks and strive for greatness!