Ask The Therapist: ”I am a below average student although it’s a very simple program. I failed my accounting exam for second time. I feel so guilty as my parents are doing so much for me, and I feel like I’m letting them down. What can I do this point?”

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In 2016, the number of people estimated to be suffering from mental health issues like depression and anxiety amounted to roughly 1.1 billion. Since then, numbers have likely continued to rise. Moreover, studies have also shown women especially on average are a) more likely to suffer from mental health issues, and b) less likely to talk about them. The taboo in Pakistan surrounding depression and anxiety disorders only serve to aggravate the individuals suffering even more. For the women who cannot seek out full time therapy, we’ve enlisted the help of a trained therapist. You sent us in your questions – here are the answers!

I am 21 years old, and I am so tired. From the day I started my school journey, I was an average student, then college started and I am now in the category of below average students. I’m in university now and selected BBA as my field of study as I always heard that it’s a relatively simple program. I’m not scoring well and have failed my accounting exam for the second time. What should I do? I am nearing the end of my second year and I feel very lost. I’m part of a middle-class family and I can’t really afford to switch. My health is also suffering from sciatica, and that’s also another expense that my family is taking on. I feel so guilty and my parents are doing so much for me, and I feel like I’m letting them down. What can I do at this point?

Shahrukh’s Response:

Dear Anon,

I can only imagine how difficult this must be for you. It feels like there is a lot of pressure on you at this time to perform academically, and that there is a strong feeling of stuckness. While it might be a difficult choice to make, Anon, if the world of academics isn’t working for you, it might be possible that you might be more suited to doing something else – something that utilizes your strengths and skills. Let’s explore some options and see what works best.

Only Way Out Is Through

Robert Frost once said that “the only way out is through”. You may not know what your path is, or what must be done, but what is true is that there is a path to be followed and that there is a way to get through things. When it comes to your academics, I hear you when you say that it’s been tough, and it might be time to consider some points of reflection, and even consider some options. Ask yourself: “am I doing everything that I can to do well academically? If not, what more can I do?”

Sometimes it’s not so much about how we’re doing academically, but rather about our approach and the amount of effort being put into the work. Even the hours put in do not matter as much as how they’re being utilized.

  • Identify concepts that you’re not understanding: the one thing to focus on in any academic area, Anon, is focusing on the things that you don’t fully understand. Once you’ve identified them, go back and study them – you could even utilize the resources online or maybe seek out the help of a classmate or a teacher or teaching assistant. There’s no shame in asking questions, it’s how you learn.
  • Practice makes perfect: whether it’s a concept, a dance routine or any kind of new skill; the rule is that practice makes perfect. It’s all about repetition. You know how sometimes you need to repeat a number a few times in order to remember it? That’s how it works with anything else too – your mind is taking in new information, and storing it – it takes time for it store and it will need to be introduced a few times in order for it to be retained completely. It might be challenging but you’ll get it more and more each time, so don’t give up.
  • Learn to take a break: there’s only so much information your mind can take. After every 45 minutes, it’s recommended that you give yourself a break and let the information sink in, otherwise you will not be able to retain the information as well.
  • Make summary points: at the end of each unit/chapter, make summary points so that you can review them and see if you’re able to access the information learnt.

If That Doesn’t Work….

Sometimes, Anon, we may have actually done everything that we can – made all the efforts and changes possible, and the result isn’t any better. It might be time to consider other options.

  • Think about your strengths and the things you love: consider the things that you feel drawn to, things that you feel passionate about. At times, people are more creative and that’s their strength, while others consider themselves to be analytical – what do you feel better describes between the two? Give yourself time to reflect on this and see what it is that you would like to work towards, especially in the long run.
  • I know it’s a difficult choice to make, Anon, and maybe you might choose to see your degree through in the end, yet if it’s not working for you, you can explore other options for yourself and make a switch. Once you have a plan of action in mind, speak to your parents, explaining that you have tried your best and that this is no longer working for you, and present them with an alternative plan. Speak to academic counsellors, mentors, anyone who you feel might be able to guide you better on this.
  • Anon, remember that you are not defined by your academics and that no matter what happens, you are always worthy and deserving of support from your parents. They might be more understanding than you think. It’s okay if this isn’t working for you, and you are allowed to change your mind – be easy on yourself because you are doing your best at any given moment. You are far from a burden, you deserve support and I hope you remember that.


Anon, this is a difficult situation to be in, and it’s tough making a decision like this so take your time, speak to those closest to you and who can give you input and guidance, and then decide which path you’d like to take. I hope that this article was helpful and that you have a little more clarity on how to move forward. I wish you all the best on your journey – best of luck and stay in your power!

The above article is written by Shahrukh Shahbaz Malik who is trained in humanistic integrative counselling at CPDD in the UK and currently has her own private practice in Karachi. The views expressed in this article are those of one expert. They do not necessarily represent the views of Mashion, nor do they represent the complete picture of the topic at hand. This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical diagnosis, treatment or therapy.

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