You know that time in your life–after you’ve just gone through a really stressful period–when you are sitting back, taking a breather and realizing that “Wow! I’m glad that’s over.” It’s honestly one of the best feelings in the world–knowing that you have overcome a certain challenge or that you have passed a test. Now I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the time of your life when you’re feeling particularly confident about a situation is the time when you’re the most vulnerable…and something unexpected is bound to happen.
The moment when you think that you’re on top of the world, the moment when you forget about your weaknesses as a member of the human race, or the moment when you start to let loose/stop caring as much is the moment when you’re in for real trouble! As soon as you let your guard down, something unexpected will attack you from behind and make you realize that once again, you’re an imperfect person in an imperfect world and that you really aren’t as in control of your life as you think you are.
Let me give you a really easy example: Math has always been my hardest subject. I struggle to maintain a high grade in each of my math classes every year so as not to mess up my GPA. I study harder for a math test than I would any other test in any other subject. There are many times when, despite the fact that I studied for hours and worked more problems than I thought my brain could handle, I still don’t do as well on a test as I wanted to. But then, there are times when I suddenly get an A on my Calculus test, and immediately it’s as if a switch goes off in my brain. Sometimes, I get so proud of my A that I forget that I need to continue on an upward slope if I want to improve my math skills. Instead, I spend too much time thinking: “Wow, I actually did it!” and not enough time preparing for my next test. And then, the next thing I know, it’s the night before the next test and I’m banging my head against a wall to cram all the information into my head. And then next day, I’m a total disaster–knowing that I didn’t prepare as well as I should have, which then results in an unsatisfactory grade and a very upset Sarah.
Here are a couple of things I have learned when it comes to preparing for this situation.
1. Don’t get too excited!
Excitement is never a bad thing! Be proud of yourself when you make it through a situation you never thought you would make it through. But make sure that you don’t spend too much time celebrating–because the next thing you know, you’re too full of yourself to bring yourself down from your high horse and actually learn from the situation. It ends up turning into a vicious cycle of you working super hard, completing your goal, getting super excited, forgetting that you’re a human and that you’re bound to make mistakes, and then falling flat in your face. Limit your celebration time and instead work on making a permanent change in the way you study (or whatever you’re thinking of in your particular life right now).
2. Remember that no matter how well you prepare for something, you can’t control every aspect of your life.
It’s always good to prepare for your AP Calculus test (or whatever you’re thinking of in your particular life right now) to the best of your abilities. It’s always good to give everything you do 110% of your effort at all times. However, it’s also very important to remember that even if you do everything in your power to make the best of a situation, you can never have complete control of your life. No matter what. Continuing the math test example, even if I prepare for an Algebra II test as much as I possibly can, I can’t control the fact that I get an overbearing stomach ache in the middle of the test, which completely ruins my ability to think properly, and then resulting in a bad grade (I am actually speaking from experience, here!). No matter how much effort you put in, there’s always a chance that something completely out of your control could change your situation. We are only humans, and as I’ve learned in AP Biology, there are many abiotic factors (things that are out of our control) that affect our lives…and there’s absolutely nothing you can do about it! Accept the fact that not everything is going to go perfectly smooth just because you do the best you can, however…
3. On the same token, give everything you do the best effort you can possibly give.
Just because you can’t control every aspect of your life doesn’t mean that you should just give up! Make sure that you put everything you have into everything that you do. Your life will have so much more purpose, meaning, and worth if you don’t put everything you have into everything you do. Give it your all–whether you’re tackling a difficult math problem, dealing with a problem in your company, or in the midst of an argument with a parent or spouse. Give yourself to everything that you do, and always do your part!
Hopefully that made some sense! 🙂