How failing finally set me free
28 years of not only never failing anything academic, but always doing exceptionally well.
Until yesterday. When I failed my first exam.
Disbelief hit my family as I replied to texts with the words ‘I failed’.
My brother noted how he had never thought of me failing an exam.
Academic success has always been assumed of me. Since my year 6 SAT’s, through the gifted and talented programme at high school, and into university success.
But then I did fail. There are a few drivers of this fail that I will address going forward, but the fact is Rosie Weldon failed.
I felt a huge amount of relief. 28 years of mounting pressure. People stopped saying ‘good luck’ and instead said ‘you’ll be fine, you always are’. They stopped saying ‘congratulations’ and started saying ‘Of course you passed, but what did you get?’.
As I sat before my exam yesterday, I started losing to an anxiety attack. I knew I had to pull it together if I had any shot of passing. And Rosie Weldon doesn’t fail exams.
But I did fail. Because I am not superwoman. I am not some super powered autistic brain that wakes up capable of passing exams. For the first time in my life I can look back at my exam success and be so proud. I got 97% in an end of year university exam because I lived and breathed that content, I could have sat the exam in my sleep because I had worked so hard to memorise it all (If you want to know about porter’s five forces, I’m your girl!). I got a valedictory award because I deserved it. Because I worked damn hard for it.
Every step of my academic success has been earned. After years of imposter syndrome telling me it was just luck, some fluke I didn’t deserve, I can finally acknowledge it for what it is. Well deserved.
When I received the email for my award, I asked a friend if she had also got it. Upon her response I didn’t tell anybody for a really long time. I was adamant it was a mistake, that it wasn’t my award and there had been a mix up. I have actually deleted it off CV’s because of paranoia it isn’t real.
You know what? I did win that award. I did get 97% in multiple University exams (always 97, never higher, very frustrating). And I am damn proud of it all.
Maybe failing an exam is exactly what I needed.
Failing my exam has finally beaten Imposter Syndrome and allowed me to be proud of my academic success.