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Video: The fear of failure hits Langara

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Reported by Ashley Legassic and Jonathan Parkin

Voice editors Ashley and Edmond asks Langara students how they deal with stress and the fear of failure.

If Albert Einstein and Steve Jobs had quit after failing, we wouldn’t have the theory of relativity or the iPhone. And yet so many students are crippled by the fear of not succeeding, according to a recent study by the British Psychological Society.

The study shows that students who are exposed to the fear of failure at an early age can develop a negative attitude towards learning.

The fear’s direct impact on students

Like with any school, students at Langara are no strangers to this fear. Zahra Ghodsi failed a class in her first semester, even though her high school years saw her as a B+ student.

Not passing that single class affected Ghodsi’s options for the following semester limiting the courses she could take, but also served as the wake up call she needed.

Some students can't get the fear of failing off of their minds. Photo illustration by: Ali Crane
Some students can’t get the fear of failing off of their minds. Photo illustration by: Ali Crane

“Failing is part of the process, to get you back up,” Ghodsi said.

Ghodsi isn’t the only student who’s faced this fear head on. Student Sydney Graham has dealt with self-imposed pressure but also pressure from her parents as well.

“The standards that my brother has set are really high . . . he went to Langara as well, and got straight A’s. I feel like I have to do that as well,” Graham said.

“I’m not my brother,” she said. “I just do the best that I can.”

Graham deals with her stress fairly simply.

“Just attack it head-on. You’ll always fail if you don’t try,” she said. “It’s always harder to live with ‘what if?’”

Pressure from parents isn’t helping

Parental pressure is common among students, and according to the new study there’s a lot that a parent can do to make sure their children don’t succumb to this gripping fear.

“Teachers and parents have to be more sensitive to the rational they provide to children to adopt a goal or engage in an activity,” said study contributor Dr. Michou.

“Suggesting children to improve their skills for their own enjoyment and development is much more beneficial than suggesting them to improve their skills in order to prove themselves.”

If the stress of midterms and the fear of failing is becoming too much, Langara counsellors like Michele Bowers are available in Building B to help you through it.

“Every time a student “avoids” the thing they are afraid of, it strengthens the belief ‘they can’t handle the thing’ which perpetuates the fear,” Bowers said.

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