Monday, 16 March 2020

Doubt Kills more Dreams than Failure ever Will

 Molly shares her experience of self-doubt as a result of comparing herself to fellow students.
- Molly Hardwick 

The art of comparing yourself to others. Whether you’re in your first or final year, studying Physics or Architecture, the feeling of inferiority we tend to experience whilst seeing our agemates appear to ‘have their life together’ seems universal. When we are younger, we have vast aspirations, aiming to succeed in careers which we have no concrete knowledge on. When I was younger, I wanted to be a Vet. A classmate’s Mum was a Vet. I liked dogs. It was clear that I was to be a Vet. As children, we need no knowledge on how much others want to be Vets, or how that competition will affect our chances.

The simplicity within the journey of wanting something and achieving it is disrupted by a huge pothole in the road: doubt. I chose a degree in English because I really enjoyed reading and writing – and I admire that simplicity, and arguably naivety, in choosing something that truly made me happy, with no concrete career plan. The problem, for me, came when I began meeting other students who had a similar passion. It is so easy to have huge dreams prior to realising that others knew more, talked much better than I did, brought seven ring binders and a pencil-case full of highlighters to every seminar. While I admired their organisation, I could never use my envy positively and instead judged myself. How was I ever destined to achieve when the competition seems so much more worthy? I reached the conclusion that, in the competitive industry of creativity, others would surely be anyone’s first option. So, rather suddenly, I stopped the personal creative writing I once adored altogether.

Undoubtably (although I stopped creative writing, my puns remained eye-rolling as ever), it didn’t take long before I felt really lost. I lacked inspiration for a career, at times completely forgot my purpose and I refused to acknowledge this reduction in my drive reflected my lack of self-belief. I didn’t want to believe I was comparing myself to other people, or admit to such an ugly emotion like envy. My view that because somebody has a page full of coloured notes, means they will 100% get the job at a given interview, resulted in my struggle to enjoy my course at all.

My point is – too often we doubt our own abilities due to how well we believe others are doing. Don’t be ashamed of envy resulting in doubt. I’ve spoken to many students who can admit they’ve felt the same way at some point in their course. I’d like to think there is some comfort in the fact that we all have the unfortunate, innate habit of comparison. Starting slowly but surely, to write short pieces and making the choice to push myself intellectually, has been the ultimate form of self-care. After sleepwalking through my degree for way too long, I am regaining my confidence and passion, and ultimately your own mental health comes first. Now I’m so glad that I can rest assured knowing that if I fail, it’s not my own view of others which has stopped me.

If you’re currently feeling this way, I would recommend taking small steps in breaking down your ideas of others. I feel I’m almost obliged here to recommend ‘focusing on yourself’, yet this incredibly vague term offers almost no help to anyone struggling to focus or find motivation in the first place. So, speak to the boy whose general knowledge your slightly intimidated by, or the girl who you imagine sitting at her desk reading all night. Rather than allowing yourself to be backed into a non-productive corner for the most part of the semester, learning from those around you and learning how their reality isn’t all what you thought can truly relax your mind. And then allow you to focus on yourself.

For more information and support on looking after your wellbeing at university, click here. 


Hi! My names Molly Hardwick. I'm currently at university in my second year studying English. I'm sharing my story because I feel as though many students can relate. I really want to share this particular story because I want to normalise those undesirable feelings such as self-doubt and envy. It is difficult enough to maintain motivation through the semesters - so I hope to also share some positive stories in the future on the upkeep of positive self-image and believing in your unique ability regardless of other's influence.

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