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imgr8's avatar

How can I stop feeling like a failure for not graduating on time?

Asked by imgr8 (421 points ) August 30th, 2012

In tenth grade I went through a lot of problems and stopped going to school for about half a year then eventually go put into alternative school. Whenever I went to school I worked really hard and did great but there were a lot of periods where I was depressed and didn’t have the motivation to even get out of bed.
Now as the new school year is starting, I should already be graduated but I still have a couple of courses to go and I feel like an idiot. I feel like I’ve let everyone around me down and my sister is always making fun of me saying she’s going to graduate before me, I want to do something with my life and honestly, I kind of want to re-do some courses and get better grades but im so ashamed of myself for not being done that I feel like I just need to get it over with. I find myself not even wanting to go because im so depressed about it, what can I do?

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17 Answers

ninja_man's avatar

You can let yourself off the hook for starters. Life happens! It’s ok! Also, try not to put too much stock in the whole notion of ‘on time’. One of the greater failures of our education system is that it perpetuates the idea that everyone must learn at the same rate (thank you Bush). Everyone learns at a different pace, and that is alright. I wouldn’t get worried until they kick you out for being too old! Sounds like your head is in the right place, so hang in there and get ‘er done!

Shippy's avatar

You went back, you worked hard, you are no idiot. You are a real trooper well done. Do it at your own pace and you will get there, take it one day at a time. I am rooting for you!

Jeruba's avatar

Your sister is the one who needs to get her head on straight. She is tearing you down for reasons of her own that have nothing to do with you. Tune it out if you can. Focus instead on your own goals and what it takes to fulfill them. That’ll make you a winner. “On time” really doesn’t mean anything at all.

anatidaephobiac's avatar

Little pat on the back for asking.

Fight it, push on, have no dissillusions that its going to magically become easy at any point, you have to earn it.

when you get a day when you realise things are going really well, come back and tell us if you’d sacrifice it by changing the past.

YARNLADY's avatar

Would it help to know there are thousands, if not millions of others who graduate late. Thousands of students take classes while they are working at a regular job, to get their GED because they never did make it in high school.

My grandson didn’t graduate until he was 20 years old. He went to a charter school for older students. We now have a woman living with us who just turned 19 and she is only in 11th grade at the same charter school.

dabbler's avatar

If you quit that would be a reason to feel stupid. You go ahead and feel let yourself feel smart instead for sticking with it despite the problems and obstacles, you have a bunch of us on your side. If it’s any consolation it took me eight years to get a bachelors degree in college (dropped out for a while, part-time for a while). When you get it done you’ll be glad you did and it will be behind you.

CWOTUS's avatar

You seem to be dealing with multiple issues here, and it would help you to do that if you can separate them a bit.

In the first place, you mentioned unspecified problems that caused you to leave school for a time and fall behind your age group in school. Related to that, you have some feelings of depression and failure, perhaps mostly as a result of falling behind in school, but maybe related to the original problems that you had you quit in the first place. In addition, you have to suffer the teasing of your sister (and perhaps others; I know how kids are), and this causes you some anguish as well.

You seem to be dealing with whatever it was that caused you to leave school in the first place, but you may not have dealt with that completely, or your problems wouldn’t seem so severe. That’s something you need to continue to deal with, and you may want to consider professional help of some kind if it involves clinical depression. That’s a bitch to fight alone, and I think everyone here knows it, even if they haven’t had to deal with it directly and personally themselves.

As for your sister and others who say and do what they do, this is what you have to separate out. You can’t control what she and others say and do; all you can control is your reaction to it. If you can present a calm and unruffled demeanor in response to her teasing, then it becomes a lot less “fun” and “interesting” for her to do that. She’ll feel like she’s teasing a wall. Ever teased a wall? There’s no return. Who would do that? She’ll give it up eventually if you don’t react to it.

And other than that, if you can get ready for bed each night and tell yourself honestly that “I made some progress today” or “I accomplished a milestone” or even “I’m ready for more progress tomorrow”, then what more can you expect? What more can anyone expect?

If you have access to someone who can help to get you to do that realization (even if it’s not day-by-day but even week-by-week), then you can take off a lot of the internal pressure that you put on yourself.

Kayak8's avatar

A friend of mine graduated later than expected from high school. He now has a PhD.

wonderingwhy's avatar

If your goal was to graduate on time, then I hate to break it to you but, you’re a failure. Accept it and join the club.

Thing is, being a failure isn’t the big deal people often make it out to be. Sure it sucks and its easy to get down on yourself about it but I think you’ll find you are better defined by your effort and how you deal with failure than whether or not you fail. Everyone who tries fails, that’s life. Not everyone pulls themselves up, dusts themselves off, and gets back on the horse – that takes strength – that’s what matters; by graduating, on time or not, getting back up is exactly what you’ve done. Don’t loose sight of that, draw strength from it, and don’t sell yourself short.

Sunny2's avatar

That was before. This is now. Let the past go and start again. I would have a quiet talk with your sister about how her teasing doesn’t help. And if she doesn’t stop, ask your mom to help getting her to stop. It’s not helping you. Unless she’s a nasty bitch she’ll be a kind sister and understand.
I admire you for having the guts to stay on school and finish. You’ve had a hard time and survived. Give yourself credit for that. In five years it won’t matter at all what the timetable for you was. In 10 years, only your sister and you will still remember.

gasman's avatar

Echoing some previous sentiments above:

Getting a few months behind in graduation is an immutable fact of history that can never be changed. Your critics will dwell on this.

Fortunately the world understands that people (especially young people) can & do change for the better. Your trend is way more favorable than your present position, and trends count. Once you graduate you’ll be the same as everyone else (i.e., a graduate like them) slightly time-delayed. The stigma of delay shrinks in significance as time passes, until soon it won’t matter at all.

Meanwhile, you’ve had some experiences (including bad ones) that improved your perspective on life and taught you to avoid certain behavioral pitfalls. You’ve lived and learned—an admirable accomplishment and model for us all.

If you’re on track to finish your studies in earnest, with make-up & remedial courses, then you have every reason to feel really good about yourself. Your sister sounds insecure and lacking in the ability to be supportive of a brother she’s supposed to love. Perhaps she will live and learn as well. I’ve dealt with intermittent depression and self-esteem issues since I was your age, so trust me on this.

6rant6's avatar

Wait a few years. I guarantee that’s going to seem like a miniscule setback.

creative1's avatar

Keep your chin up and just get through these last few courses. I would then plan to start college, if you finishing up mid year then why not go to a community college to start off with and then apply to what ever college you want to go to for next year. If you continue taking classes through the summer months you would not be that far behind those that graduated the prior year. You will find in life no matter what happens in life if you pick yourself up by the boot straps and just plug along you will reach your goals.

Now are you seeing a counsilor or anyone to help you with your issues in getting depressed. Did they perscribe medication to you as well??

I wish you well in acheiving all your goals in life!

Pandora's avatar

Next time your sister rubs it in your face, remind her that life isn’t over and she nor you hasn’t had enough years to prove yourselves. Tell her you wish her well in her future and would hope that she would do the same for you.
Don’t worry about those classes you wish you had done better. First year of college is basically a high school refresher course. People think its difficult, but that is because its a crash course to cover material that many schools don’t cover. Repeating classes may only make you feel worse. You have the desire now and that is all that matters. Not everyone goes at the same pace or takes the same path.Your journey is meant to be different from your sister. Not identical. Better late than never. Many choose never so congratulate yourself for choosing late.

Jeruba's avatar

By the way, I was a “late” graduate too. From college, not high school. When I quit (feeling depressed, overwhelmed, and like a total failure) in my junior year, I didn’t see how I’d ever finish. I worked for four years, and then one day I was ready, so I picked myself up and went back and graduated.

The delay worked in my favor because I was more mature and much better prepared to handle classes plus a job. In the end I was right on time—the time that was right for me.

No one ever asks me how old I was when I finished college or how long it took me. Instead, if my year of graduation ever comes up at all, people are just apt to think I’m four years younger than I really am.

zensky's avatar

I am also a late graduater. No big deal in the scheme of things.

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