Find victory in defeat


Defeat occurs once in a while to everybody, including us students—whether it be losing in a quiz tournament, missing a game winning shot, or performing poorly in a Model United Nations conference. And bouncing back from defeat is not easy.

While dealing with defeat, some fall into the tempting trap of coping strategies that merely provide temporary relief from the source of pain. Yet these strategies, in the long term, mostly fail to soothe bitterness and provide a valuable lesson. To avoid this trap, it is important to adopt a healthy mindset, one that not only acknowledges personal faults but also emphasizes self-care.

At the moment, many SIS students display one common mistake: blaming others for their defeat.

From criticizing teammates’ poor work ethic in a group project or the judges’ supposed bias at a tournament, blaming somebody is a natural reaction to avoid feeling responsible. However, this is a short-term remedy; this method does not solve the situation—it merely induces more resentment, hatred, and anger. 

Playing the blame game also stunts personal growth. Yes, it is true that looking back on a Forensics tournament and analyzing your faults, right after experiencing defeat, is tough. But at the end of the day, failures pave the way for greater success in the future.

Examining potential reasons for failing to get an executive role for a club—maybe a lack of contributions or a sloppy interview—can help prepare better strategies for next year. Pondering instances of failed leadership can shed light on ways to better guide the disordered group. By focusing on room for improvement, the chances of repeating mistakes are significantly reduced.

However, taken to the extreme, putting pressure on yourself can be just as bad as blaming others.

Some may consider self-criticism a burning fuel of motivation that leads to success. Though this is not entirely false, research suggests that self-pressure is an unhealthy coping strategy, counterproductive for self-growth and control. This is especially damaging for us students: it can cause greater procrastination and negatively affect our performance for upcoming exams, possibly starting a vicious cycle.

The best mentality is to tread a fine line between examining your accountability and critiquing yourself: recognize that there is no point crying over spilled milk and treat it as a stepping stone for the future.

Several activities may help to adopt the right coping mindset. Try meditating, taking a walk, or talking to a friend—all activities that reduce resentment and involve self-reflection. Seeking social support is especially effective: it buffers individuals against the negative impact of stress, according to a study.

During the process, it is crucial to take some time to look back at your emotions. It may be a tendency to avoid recalling the painful experience, but burying emotions is not good for mental health. Try having an intimate conversation with yourself to understand your emotions. Facing and settling anger requires acknowledging it.

As a final note, keep aware that there are many more opportunities lying ahead—during and after high school. Reflect on the past defeats, but don’t get too caught up with them. Don’t be overwhelmed by failures, for when dealt with appropriately, they will make you stronger.