Stories from our international boarding schools

How to not give up: A student’s perspective

Let’s face it, we’ve all been there before. All those sleepless nights spent staring hopelessly at a blank page as the hands of time march toward an untimely deadline, boring in our heads the inescapable fact that we could soon be doomed. Whether it’s an essay, an assignment, a project, or something entirely different haunting you, there might also be temptation for you to just give up in the face of such insurmountable odds. When everyone else around you is projecting an image of success or confidence, it’s easy to feel alone and lose sight of the actual objective at hand. Your ego tricks you into thinking of life as a race because you’re falling behind everyone else, when really, the reality of the situation could be that the image curated by a peer is completed but bland. Whatever the case may be, you may have to accept the fact that you might not be able to get over your ego trip, yet. You just have to keep going until you make it.

I’ve myself recently been in a seemingly hopeless position with two of my IB assignments: my Extended Essay (EE) and Film Independent Study. For weeks or even months, I would find myself on the brink of a mental and emotional breakdown from the stresses of these two Goliaths. Many a times and oft during the past few months, I frequented the thought of giving up and eventually fell into a state of being where I was paralyzed by my responsibilities. However, I had the help of patient and loving people who gently guided me back on the right path. I understand that not everyone is as fortunate as I am in receiving support, so I hope that these tips will help you find your way back. I hope that these words can truly help in showing you how to not give up.

Adopt a “Not Yet” Mindset.

When people are in the pre-production stage of a large project or at the start of a learning course, there is a tendency to underestimate the amount of dedication and effort truly required. To this end, some people may feel overwhelmed by the reality of the situation when it finally dawns upon them that the project or course cannot be completed instantly. Since as humans, we love following paths of comfort and least resistance, we sometimes automatically fall into the rabbit hole thoughts of “I can’t do this” or “I’m never going to be able to do this.”

These thoughts may seem harmless, but they do sometimes act as mental blocks which demotivate you by inflating the task at hand into a beast. You unconsciously set yourself up for failure and inch closer to giving up. Whenever you catch your mind spiraling into this abyss, reel yourself back in and remember the words “not yet.” With some practice, those words of comfort will positively warp into “I can’t do this… yet” or “I’m never going to be able to do this… well, not yet” and help reassure you that with some more time and effort, you will be able to excel. Just don’t go overboard and say “not yet” to your teachers or boss as an excuse every time you have work to hand in, then you’re good to go.

Meadow fields

As mentioned earlier, one of the things that stopped me from giving up was the support of patient and loving people. In the face of insurmountable odds, some people like myself choose to focus obsessively at a task until we finally conquer it. However, this may sometimes also come at the expense of our emotional and social health, which is not a very good way to live. So, whenever things in life or school or work get out of hand, you’ll need the love and support of the people who will be there by your side no matter what. Whether that’s family, friends, teachers, or your community, allowing your mind to drift off into the meadow fields with these people will help you to regain some semblance of peace and serenity in your life, ensuring that you can come back to your work feeling refreshed.

Restart 

Sometimes, after we’ve spent so much time on a piece of work, everything turns blurry and we end up not being able to separate the weeds from the grass anymore. In times like these, it may be hard but the best thing to do could be to restart. It may seem counter-intuitive to completely restart from scratch when your progress has already been stagnant for so long, but this new start could be the breakthrough that you needed. Plus, there’s really nothing to lose at this point. Don’t delete the whole document of course, just create a new one and bring some of the most important points over to build back up better. Additionally, break down the task into smaller, more manageable bits to cover so you don’t get lost again, make a to-do list of the points you should cover. Learn from what you’ve already done and make it easier for yourself this time around, just like how you would do if you restarted a video game.

S.O.S.

Asking for help can be hard, no matter what it is we need help with. There’s just something about the act itself which makes most people feel silly doing, it’s as if there’s an inherent shame embedded within the word “help.” Even when we know that we should, even when it would make our lives so much more easier, a lot of people avoid it like a plague. Maybe it’s a fear that if we show our most vulnerable side to someone, the person can hurt us by making fun of us or rejecting our plead. Maybe it’s an ego game again where we don’t want to seem less than anyone else. I’m not sure why it is that we don’t always ask for help when we need it most. All I can say is to be more mindful of instances when you should, but don’t ask for help, and catch yourself out. Find out what’s stopping you (tip: it’s you, you’re the one stopping yourself). Other people want to help you, it may seem like they don’t when we’re suffering internally while everyone goes about their lives like nothing’s going on. However, that’s just it, no one can read our minds and help us out of thin air. We have to reach out for help, and help shall ye receive.

Do Your Best

Growing up, my mom would always drop me off to school every morning. During exam weeks, she would always hold me aside before I left and tell me, “don’t worry too much about the exams, just do your best.” This would be after she spent weeks making me study and worrying about my exams for me. Of course, at the age of 6 to 11, I didn’t care about my exams anyways. However, hearing that phrase 4-5 times a year for six years really etches itself into your psyche. Just do your best. I believe this phrase can be applied to every aspect of every single person’s life, especially in our competitive world. We constantly push to be the best in our field but there will always be someone somewhere who will be better than us. All we can do is to be the best version of ourselves everyday, to be better than the person we were yesterday, and do our best. When you’ve accepted this, perhaps you won’t feel pressured in life as much anymore, and will not be paralyzed by your responsibilities.

 


 

Perseverance, dedication, enthusiasm – think you’re up for the challenge?

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