Everyone gets discouraged sometimes. It becomes hard to look at the world as a happy place when I get a discouraging grade or when my sister eats that piece of pie in the back of the fridge that I’ve been dreaming about all day- when things just don’t go my way. Such disappointments, even if momentary, alter the way you think about the world that surrounds you.
I believe that this tarnished view of day-to-day life is caused by the pressure we impose on ourselves to succeed academically and professionally. In my opinion, this suffocating need for success is superficial.
Unfortunately, I conform to these ideals on many occasions: I was raised in a family that puts a lot of importance on scholarly achievements. It is a family that does not have a tendency to appreciate the ‘little things’, that has a tendency to base worth on academic success. I am only human; I am influenced by those around me, especially by the behavior and opinions of people for whom I care about deeply.
Everyone has a different definition for these ‘little things’. For me, the simple fact that I woke up one morning with a smile on my face, feeling ‘alright’ to go to school is enough for me. It can be as simple as enjoying the plethora of vibrant color speckling the trees on the walk to Villa Maria: the beauty surrounding you may have made you feel at peace with yourself and in that moment, it did not matter that you may have gotten a bad grade in that humanity course you hesitated to take.
My point is that there is no need to be so hard on ourselves.
Society is paradoxical in the way that it teaches people to feel about accomplishments. On one hand, there are articles and people that try to put an emphasis on emotional accomplishments – predominantly happy ones. However, the education system in itself is built around universally grading the way one learns, and allowing these results to dictate one’s future.
In some ways, such a method bears positive results. Healthy levels of anxiety or stress make people work hard, help to avoid procrastination and provide incentives for other healthy behaviors like physical activity. However, many agree that most of the stress experienced by students in fact causes the stark opposite. Including myself, countless people have put aside their physical health to study. For many people, the ability to follow through with such responsibilities has been marred by the overwhelming stress surrounding them.
The next time you are handed back and unsatisfactory grade, you are allowed be upset. However, you should be able to come to terms with your shortcomings. There are always solutions in these disappointing situations: for example, you can discuss an unsatisfactory grade to your teacher. Realistically, the chances of that grade changing are extremely slim and there is no point wallowing in frustration and crippling disappointment. The most beneficial thing you can pull from such a scenario is a chance to learn and improve from your mistakes.
However, most importantly, you can’t forget that you have to take time for yourself. There is absolutely no harm in taking a bubble bath and reading your favorite book every once in a while. You should understand what behaviours can optimize your mental and physical well-being. For example, as hard as it may be, turn off your computer the night before an exam and sleep. For those who haven’t learned this lesson yet, taking care of yourself usually correlates with higher marks. Sleeping the minimum of 6 hours amounts per day, eating somewhat healthy foods and avoiding excessive caffeine consumptions are basic steps to take to start caring for your health.
Don’t be afraid to give yourself a break, and understand that the only way to move past something is to accept it. If you let these issues paralyze you and not relish the ‘little things’, like enjoying a fresh cup of tea on a gloomy fall afternoon, it may be hard for you to achieve any happiness in your life.
Written by MWR Executive Editor Véronique Leblanc, edited by the MWR team