When we talk about our glasses being half full or half empty, we immediately think about optimism and pessimism. But does that mean that what we have and what we don’t have defines our perspective of the world? Maybe we shouldn’t only be looking at the contents of our glass. Maybe we should look at the whole picture:
We each have a glass. We each have something in that glass. We still have space to add and we still have something to lose; we have something to strive for and we have something to cherish. Let’s appreciate the beauty and value of what we hold in the palm of our hands. Let’s be grateful that we still have purpose and ambition on the soles of our feet. When we can understand this, that’s when our perspective of the world is truly cemented. That is when optimism springs and continues to grow.
Sometimes it seems so much easier to be pessimistic and wallow in our misery than to be optimistic. But where would we be without positivity? Positivity means aspiration and hope; it gives us the power to use our imagination to build the kind of life we want to live in and actually believe that the life we imagine is conceivable and obtainable. And if positivity means aspiration and hope, then positivity means motivation and persistence. Optimism allows us to act on those ambitions and ideas, and to keep trying new ways of achieving and succeeding, no matter how many times we fail. And finally, positivity means progress. All those times we didn’t give up on ourselves or our dreams and all those times we didn’t give into that negative energy of defeat or discouragement has now united into that final product. Without positivity, we never go anywhere and nothing ever gets better. Even though we have to work for positivity, positivity can also work for us.
Whether you’re filled with self-doubt and no self-confidence, or you know that you didn’t spend enough time writing and revising, anticipation hangs in that moment before receiving a grade. And once its there in your hand, completely unexpected and foreign in the worst way, there is no better way of describing the feeling other than like the end of the world, however clichéd it sounds.
Sitting in the toilets of the English Department at my university, I cried whilst reading over the comments of the paper I had worked so hard on. There wasn’t any possibility of me spending more time on that paper than I did. Is this really what defines my best? Does this mark define my abilities? How can I ever do better than this in the future? At the time, my answers to these questions fell to the negative end of the scale. And that is probably because my head was clouded with self-loathing and my throat clogged the sadness. But once I got over that initial stage I had to ask myself one final question: was I going to let myself be brought down by this unlucky experience, or was I going to pick myself up, take some action, and really show that marker what I could do? I hope everyone in a similar position would pick the second option. So here is a little action plan to get you started:
- I think its ok to cry at the beginning to let out all the frustration, sadness and disappointment you are feeling.
- Talk about it with someone who you know will be supportive and comforting – they will make you feel better by listening and give you some good advice and reassurance.
- Don’t waste your time crying about it, but resolve to take some action. You’ll kick yourself for wasting energy on it later; in a few years you’ll look back on it and think how trivial it actually is.
- Book a meeting with your teacher or tutor about what went wrong. Although it can be hard to hear, it will help you in the long run because they’ll give you pointers on how to improve. In the end you might even see that you’re doing even better than you would have done if you hadn’t had this bad grade.
- Don’t give up. Even if you’ve had a few bad grades, there is always time to change things around. You just have to believe in yourself and your capabilities and realise that things can be achieved if you put in the work.
- Don’t compare yourself to others, but remember that other people are or have been in a similar position, and you are not alone. Everyone sometimes has a bad mark or day and its best to acknowledge it, deal with it and move onto better things.
“We cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails.” – Unknown Author
A New Year squeezes our shoulders again and guides us forward into the future. It is a time where we reflect on the year gone by, the good memories we will cherish and the mistakes we made that we now have learnt from. The New Year inspires optimism and hope for that which we wish to accomplish, and provides us with a clean slate to redefine ourselves and our lives to our choosing, even if by the time we return to school and work and routine nothing much will feel different except the date you sign on a piece of paper. But although it may be the case that the newfound optimism and hope can slip away at times, you must never lose the feeling of taking control of your life and dedicating yourself to becoming the person you want to be, however small the resolution is; this is how we grow. We must take these moments, because they create the catalyst. So I encourage everyone to make a resolution, something attainable, that can remind you of the special feelings that the New Year produces to last throughout the whole of 2013, and motivate you towards what you aspire to be. If I have learnt anything from 2012, it is that there is nothing more important than staying true to who you believe you are and should be, regardless of anyone else’s opinions. As Dr Seuss once said, “Why fit in when you were born to stand out?” Don’t let anyone dull your sparkle. Happy New Year!