April 4, 2019, by Issy

Dealing with Setbacks

Even the very best of us suffer setbacks. Big or small, it’s impossible to go through life without them. If we didn’t have setbacks, what would we have to measure our achievements against?

Going into an examination period, and a time where students may start looking for graduate jobs or further study, the idea of failure is often at the forefront of many minds. For some, this may turn out to be something that didn’t need to be worried about, but for those where it becomes a reality, whether its placements, jobs, university applications, mental health, or even in relationships, I’ve come up with some ways to deal with the feeling of ‘not being good enough’, some from personal experience and others from what I know has helped my friends and family during tough times.

  1. Allow yourself to feel sad. But only for a little while. It’s okay to express emotions, it makes you human. Getting negative feelings off your chest is usually the first step to getting over a setback. Cry, vent, write those feelings down. Then, start to look forward and work out what your next steps will be.
  2. Have a backup plan. Much like UCAS’ options of ‘Firm’ and ‘Insurance’ choices of universities that every student looks back oh-so-fondly on (sorry for bringing up those memories!), it’s good to have a Plan B to fall back on in case Plan A doesn’t work out. Plan B may even work out to be the better route to take – who knows? Don’t rely on just taking one pathway in life – use your connections, networks and initiatives to have alternative routes to take, to save you being left in the dark.
  3. Make a playlist. This is a surprisingly cathartic way of dealing with things. Make a playlist of songs that fit your exact mood (Currently, I’m compiling a rather long Brexit playlist, including songs such as ‘Should I stay or Should I go? by The Clash, ‘Better Togetherby Jack Johnson and ‘I want to break free’ by Queen). You can literally make a playlist for any mood or situation, and it can often put a positive, empowering spin on something you looked at in a bad light before. I think I’ll make my next blog post on the art of playlisting!
  4. Talk to people who can help. There are loads of people in your corner. Your friends and family can help with those inevitable negative feelings, or you can contact services such as Nightline (0115 951 4985) for a confidential, impartial and non-judgemental chat about what’s going on. The Careers and Employability service can help with issues concerning future jobs, and your school student services team or personal tutor are well equipped to deal with similar issues regarding jobs or placement. The SU Advice service can also help you find options to deal with issues and give you advice on where to go next.


It’s a normal part of university life to suffer setbacks, I can’t emphasise that enough. I sometimes find it hard to see this myself, especially when all my peers seem to be constantly succeeding, but deep down I know I’m not the only one. However, what I do know is that dealing with these setbacks makes finally achieving your ambitions and goals so, so much more satisfying and amazing!

Posted in Issy