It’s been a minute…Hope all is well in your respective corners of the world :). I know many of you are either freshly back at Uni (e.g. Europe) or are currently preparing for final year exams (e.g. South Africa), and I thought I would write a piece on handling criticism/setbacks. Truth is university is about more than just getting a degree: it’s about building your character through the relationships formed while preparing for the real world. You are bound to receive some constructive feedback (if lucky), or simple criticism because well just like you can’t be friends with everybody, not everyone is going to like you or what you do (i.e. your study method, hours, your clothes, choice of partnership, etc.)
Learning how to handle criticism is crucial, but even more so how not to let it affect you/your performance negatively especially people’s opinions can end up being your greatest asset (if used well and pushes you to grow and improve on yourself), or your worse nightmare (esp. when feeling low). In my case the criticism often received was around the fact that I was “too soft, too meek, not enough of an organised worker”, my English was horrible/not good enough (depending on how I spoke to), my time management skills (or lack thereof…lol!),etc. In my darkest days, all the above created HUGE amount of self-doubt in my abilities to finish my degree. So my way out was to develop a coping mechanism: I told myself to focus on the GOAL i.e. I came to South Africa to get a degree and I was not leaving (if ever) without it-whatever was required to be done, would simply have to be done. I simply refused to believe otherwise & that pulled me through. Looking back at my journey as a student abroad, I recall vividly two major setbacks
- My final year project. I was part of a group which did not only not pass the final year project, but was given a flat zero for what counted for more than 60% of the final mark.
- My masters thesis, which came back marked by both examiners as unsuccessful and required to be re-submitted for examination and A LOT of additional work (both stories for another post, I promise 😀 )
Through these two experiences, I realised that I am me and softness/meekness while perceived as weaknesses could also be my greatest strength. So I started focusing on things I could improve e.g. time management, being organised, English writing (e.g. I realised that UCT had a writing center which could proofread up to 30 pages free of charge, and best believe I used it prior to sending it to my supervisor), etc. It took a lot of humility & determination but now looking back-here I am ( with both a BSc & MSc).
Every time I doubt in myself till this day, I remember where I came from (through the grace of the almighty), what I went through and it gives me confidence in my ability to overcome challenges I face and believe I can achieve my future dreams.
I do hope you enjoyed this post & do leave a comment down below 😉
Stay awesome until my next post!