Tuesday, January 22, 2013

This Too Shall Pass

What is your perspective on control? Do you believe that everything in life is what we make of it; we each have control over our own destiny? Do you believe that there is a supernatural (divine, fate, predetermined, or random) force that exists, and that we are simply going through the motions or reacting to challenges that are placed before us? Have you considered that perhaps our lives are somewhere in the middle?

In school as in life, there are stressors. We get injured, either due to freak accident or to miscalculation. We find ourselves in scary social situations, either due to poor judgment or unfortunate timing. We experience setbacks. It happens. Some believe that if you walk the straight and narrow path, you are sure to succeed. Some believe that challenges are inevitable, and we are ultimately being judged by how we handle those dilemmas.

There is only so much control that we have in our lives. You can choose to do your homework or troll Facebook.  Every day, or several days a week, or never. You can choose to limit your studies to exactly what you teachers assign daily, or you can be more proactive... or do less than what it takes to be successful - by whatever measure of success you choose to use. When misfortune occurs, you can work to overcome the adversity, or you can globalize the problem and get overwhelmed, responding with denial or worse.

In any case, there are some things that you can do to improve your situation, and there are some situations about which you have no external control. In those cases, you do have control over you how you internally respond. When you implement behaviors to prevent or react to problems, it usually helps ease your mind to believe, "Well, at least I tried." You may also sometimes choose to approach the problem with uncompromising standards, resolute that your position is the right one. However, when you don't get your way - in your family, your social life, your experience in school - you don't have to completely give up. You can choose to take a step back and consider that maybe this is a chance for you to try a new approach to a new (or even familiar) problem. Does ignoring the problem help? How about blaming others? At the very least, take a minute to slow down and process the situation.

Just keep trying new ways of dealing with unforeseen setbacks. Even if a strategy worked once, it may not work every time. Learning how to overcome adversity is a major part of growing up, and adults can tell you, the learning never stops. Even Socrates said, "The more I learn, the more I learn how little I know." It's incredibly important that we all remember the centuries-old adage This Too Shall Pass. Ultimately, whatever is bothering you will either go away or be replaced by the next thing. There will be another problem to tackle tomorrow. You will always have new and different accomplishments and challenges. The wonder in life is understanding and remembering that nothing is ever so big that it's worth derailing everything else.

Please, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, feel proud that you tried, and keep trying. As the famous college basketball coach Jim Valvano said, "Don't give up. Don't ever give up."

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