I vividly recall my first day in college; I saw a huge wooden board that had the names of all the toppers in various subjects and god knows of how many years. Much to my excitement and motivation, I told myself that one day I too shall have my name written in the Board of Honors. Eventually, my fellow friend and I did share the toppers position in Psychology and were really thrilled to have our names written on that board. However, much to our surprise we were dumbfounded to know that from that very year the tradition of having names written on the board of Honors for certain subjects including Psychology or may be for all the subjects would be discontinued. This simple information took away most of my thrill of doing well in exams.
Now, I would simply like to ask you something slightly different from what I just narrated - when was the last time you did something for yourself? For most senior-school students probably choosing their stream of interest could be the answer (which again could be influenced by parents), for some it could be pursuing a hobby or building on a skill (which again I wonder if it was possible with so much on your plate) or the answer could be simply – nothing. Now ask yourself why ‘nothing’ was your answer, and think deeply again because for me eating my favorite cookies last night was something I did for myself and yes it can be as simple and easy as that. In this humdrum of life where you will always be surrounded by multiple crossroads always remember that the choice you make will end up defining your path. This choice you make will also heavily depend upon your locus of control or what is that central point that influences your decision making. In my above example it was purely external. I wanted to do well so that I could have my name up on the board of Honors, and when this did not happen I lost most of my happiness of doing well. Thus, this certainly is not the most adaptive one. Having an internal locus of control turns out to be more fruitful because in this case you know that you make decisions for yourself and your own good. You know that you can control the outcome. So studying to do well for yourself and reach your potential is your internal locus of control. Then of course being acknowledged for it becomes the cherry on the cake. Also, if you don’t get that kind of acknowledgement it should not impact you so much because you know what you did and where you stand, you don’t need an approval from the external.
So, it all boils down to choices, from which stems the most crucial part- conflict. While making a choice we may face 3 types of conflicts as stated by a famous Psychologist Kurt Lewin. These are:
Aversive – Approach: where you need to choose between what you want versus what you would like to avoid. Eg: you would probably choose going for your best friend’s birthday party (approach) rather than going for a boring wedding of an extended family member (aversive). This is an easy choice to make because you know clearly what you want vs. what you don’t.
Approach – Approach: where you are torn between two desirable options but can choose only one. Eg: You want to go for Ed Sheeran’s concert but at the same time you have your close relatives wedding.
These choices are slightly difficult to make because you now need to prioritize and then select one option.
Aversive – Aversive: here you end up with two undesirable situations and have to select one of the two. Eg: getting under peer pressure to try something or getting excluded from your social circle and never being invited to any party again.
This is a difficult choice to make because both situations don’t define you and can be hurtful as you may require choosing one.
Hence, you must always remember that in this world you are your own hero and make sure that the choices you make should help you reach your goal keeping your self respect (having faith in your internal locus of control), self knowledge (always gaining new knowledge) and self reflection (introspection and self discovery) intact.
You must remember that nothing in this life is permanent, even the deck of tarot cards has a card called “the wheel of fortune”which states that life is ever evolving and when you have highs you must remember that there will be lows and when you have lows you must remember that there will be highs.
In life ahead you will meet people who will leave an impact on you they can be your family members, teachers etc. You will meet people who will admire you and give you affirmations and boost your confidence, you will meet people who may leave you and these can be certain friends or relationships, you may meet people who will empathise with you and try to understand your situation such as parents, guides etc, you may meet people who you might not like such as your co-workers, team members and so on, you may need to work with team members who won’t resonate with your values, you may have friendships that can break when you least expect them to, there might be times when you will feel things are unfair, like I felt in my case. Well, all this is life and it’s alright and it’s okay. Don’t panic don’t lose your grit because you may be down but you should never be out. You all are highly capable and brave so look after yourself and do things for your self-care, enjoy and have fun. Try to have your coping strategies in place which will help you cross the rough seas and sail through high tides, it could be as simple as indulging in your hobbies, meeting a mentor, taking advice from family and teachers. Always remember that after a storm there also comes a rainbow. Good times are going to be there too so make the choices that are beneficial for you because you are your own hero!
I will leave you with my favourite quote- A ship in port is safe, but that’s not what ships are built for. – Grace Hopper