“New semester, new me.” This is something I tell myself at the beginning of every school semester, determined, excited and full of energy. Then one month in, I’m already back to having no clue on how to “student” anymore.
Not this time. I’m not falling into old habits anymore. This semester, I’m keeping up a clear mindset and this time, it will be as easy as basic rocket science, thanks to the following tips.
To keep a clear mindset, remove clutter from your life
I’m not talking about cleaning your room. My room is straight up foreshadowing the end of the world. What I’m talking about, is ridding your headspace of any negative ways of thinking, by calling yourself out on them and refocusing yourself on the things that really matter. You don’t want those taking up precious space, which could be used to ace your anthropology 101 class. Seriously, don’t fuck with a cluttered headspace. It’ll mess you up.
Someone else’s progress or hindrance is not your progress or hindrance
Dwelling on why you didn’t get an opportunity someone else did or feeling a bit down on yourself because you’re noticing someone else is starting gain recognition for their work, is not going get you any closer to your goals.
This is the psychology of letting go. The universe isn’t going to feel bad for you and then hand you a bunch of dope scholarship and showcase opportunities. Be happy for your peers and work harder. You’re all chasing a similar thing. People are going to take off at different times. I call it “career puberty” (trademark). Everyone grows differently, and some of us more awkwardly than others.
On the flip side, if someone is going through a rough patch, putting out shaky work or perhaps experiencing their grades starting to slip, it’s not going get you any further in your own journey if you put them down or talk negatively about them.
I can’t imagine any truly successful person being someone who feels sorry for themselves or puts others down. They probably just keep working at their craft to “Git gud”.
Embrace the knowledge you are given
The goal of school is to build up your toolbox, not everything is going to be relevant to you and that’s okay. Just stay open to trying new things. You may want to direct action movies but you never know when that Intermediate Documentary Filmmaking may come in handy. You may be a political science major but you never know when you’ll need to whip out some knowledge from that one brief Advanced Criminal Law module.
You’re not going to agree with every teaching sent your way – some of these classes are more like an introduction to teaching for your new professors anyways. Just stay open minded and use what feels right for you. Take what you need to progress, but don’t cast stuff aside just because it’s not immediately relevant to your interests.
Conflicting viewpoints are a good thing
Your entire schooling career is essentially a communication studies course. Specifically, it teaches you how to communicate with people who may not be on the same page as you ― the only difference is, you have a safety net. The only repercussions are linked to you getting a passing grade. You don’t have to worry about poor communication in college ruining your career.
It’s a necessary thing to have your ideas and viewpoints challenged, otherwise you have no real ability in justifying them or strengthening them. I’m not saying that every opinion needs to turn into debate 109 but I am saying that a back and forth of contrasting viewpoints can only help you better articulate what you really believe in. Not every conversation needs to be an argument you have to win. You can learn a lot from others if you keep an open mind, even if you flatout hate their opinion.
No one has it figured out
From a distance everyone seems like they have their shit figured out. From a distance everyone is having the time of their lives. This is made worse by social media. That anxiety you feel about not quite having all the answers yet? It’s normal. We all feel that way, almost all of the time. We’ve just all gotten really good at hiding it. We’re all Littlefinger in Game of Thrones... we like to act as if we know every move but then the season 7 finale happens.
The science of illusion is not a difficult field of study. Everything you see of the people around you are just highly curated images of what they choose to project. We present only our best selves and because of that, we are rarely open about the stress, anxiety, and confusion we feel. This can be especially strong in school, where uncertainties about the future are at an all time high.
Just remember if you’re trying to keep with the “Having-Your-Shit-Together” levels you’re seeing displayed by the people around you, especially on their social media – you’re idolizing something that isn’t real, fam.
Keeping up appearances is exhausting and it’s only going to take away energy from actually studying for that exam that’s been stressing you out, or actually applying for those positions/internships.
Avoid people who are agreeable with you at your worst
The company you keep can be a massive influence on where your head’s at. Make sure the people you’re around lift you up and hold you accountable for your bullshit attitude. We all feel lazy from time to time. We all slip into procrastination mode on the regular. The work piles up and instead of chipping away, you take a nap. You know you have an exam coming up but you’re out with friends or binge watching Riverdale.
Eventually, it’s going to catch up to you and the excuses will start flying. “The professor is a dick.” “The entire exam was on the one chapter I didn’t go over!” If you have friends who let you get away with those weak-ass excuses… You’re fucked. You’re participating in cooperative polygraphy where the entire squad helps each other pass their own lie detector tests on whether or not they’re actually putting in an adequate amount of effort.
If your homies ever roast you for doing the ‘required readings’, they’re not your homies. If they roast the shit out of you for not doing the required readings when your response essay sounds dumb as hell, they’re your true friends.