If you had a bad day today, I’m here to tell you you’re not alone. Forget a bad day, I had a bad week. Ironically a lot of people, myself included, find solace in the fact that they are not alone in facing an issue. This never fixed any problems, but probably justifies to all of us that our problem is more common among the human populous than we think. If you are truly living in the moment, you make these evaluations on a daily basis. At some point in the day it is decided that today is a good or a bad day. I often find myself denoting all the bad days to myself and simply enjoying myself too much on the good ones to bother to sink into reflection. On that basis you determine the good and the bad days, and it’s all a matter of perspective. We choose to define our days as good or bad, so why not make all of them good? I’m currently feeling like I am being overly pessimistic so join me in an exercise in positivity.
A summary of my week:
For school I’ve had assignments for all my classes due this week. I had a problem set due Wednesday for algebra, a problem set due Thursday for history of math, and a presentation to be submitted for my economics class. On top of that I am a writing liaison to an economics class taught by my advisor. So for the past two weeks I have had 20 minute consultation sessions for an hour a day. Unfortunately these students don’t seem to be too enthusiastic about this class anymore so a lot of them rescheduled last-minute (only to never pick a new time) or just never showed up to the session so I wasted time waiting in the writing center. A student not showing up to an appointment at a time when a famous math lecturer was visiting the college was fairly frustrating as well.
I’m one of those people who absolutely needs free time within the day so I will lose sleep to claim my free time, even at odd hours in the morning. Unfortunately one can run into severe time constraints later in the semester. Writing my, so far, daily blog posts is part of my free time activities and I don’t mind writing at whatever time of night, but the mental exertion is definitely taking a toll on the quality of my writing. This feeling of sub par accomplishment exists in the academic sphere too; I’m constantly getting critical feedback from my professors, which is only natural. So everywhere I turn to right now, I’m getting this feeling that I could do better, but I’m simply being asked to do too much at the same time to guarantee quality output.
This frustration became self-evident today when I was presenting a math problem in class today for algebra. To study for the upcoming test Monday we had to prepare answers for individual problems. I had ended up starting mine at midnight the night before, because of the time constraints I was working under. I was fairly certain at the time I had made no mistakes when answering the questions, but had some doubts that I was too tired to double-check. When I went up to the whiteboard I calmly wrote the answers and explained my problem, which had three parts. A student asked me a question related to part (a) and I actually gave him the dumbest answer possible, which illustrated I didn’t know what I was talking about beyond that problem. Then the professor corrects me politely, which isn’t supposed to happen. Part (b) is fine, but part (c) was disastrous. I got it completely wrong and my professor actually got up and started correcting what I had on the board. You might reply to me, “Adi everyone makes mistakes.” Well…everyone else had probably gone over the proofs with her and made certain they didn’t have any issues. I work during her office hours, had no time to make a separate appointment (let alone have my own breathing room) and was probably too exhausted to care until standing up in front of the class illustrating my lack of preparation compared to my classmates.
In addition to everything else I have stated, I am the station manager for the college radio station and our budget became due on very short notice. The worst feeling is when other priorities off in the distance impact your performance related to your current task. Whenever I was completing my academic assignments this week, I was also juggling messages between my fellow radio folks, hoping that the budget would meet the deadline without me sitting there itemizing each line (it did, but it was very last-minute). While worrying about that my professor sent us a threatening e-mail regarding submitting our presentations immediately. I was sitting at my computer in the library working away as he sent it. My partner for the project plays lacrosse and he couldn’t meet me that afternoon, so I sent my materials in without getting a second perspective. Again forced into a miserable last-minute situation because of time constraints.
So all of that made for one hell of a week.
I was talking on the phone today with a friend and came to a realization. I had turned into a walking, talking list of complaints. It was Friday afternoon and I was too bummed out to enjoy myself. My friend reminded me that my sense of responsibility was causing me anxiety and in some ways that is a blessing. Despite the sheer amount of things thrown my way, I still dealt with them accordingly. However this sense of failure left me lying in my bed with my arms shaking from time to time. It dawned on me that the worst part of the battle was over, and I was still playing my price for it. Despite whatever mediocre results I get from all my pursued endeavors this week, I can also register the fact that I never gave up. So there is always a silver lining to your bad day. We can give up, it’s so easy to give up, but every action that resembles resistance towards an attitude of negativity is very precious.
When making my evaluations of these days, I can simply refuse to call them bad days. Sure I acted a fool in class, my professor scoffed at my first presentation submission, and I laid in my bed at times being unable to think or move when there was still more work to be done. Being positive starts with accepting your mistakes and mistakes are simply stepping-stones towards eventual success. I have referenced the 10,000 hour theory before (takes 10,000 hours to master a skill set), and one can only imagine how many mistakes are imbedded into that many hours of practice/experience. We have to fail over and over again before we meet our own expectations and “succeed”. But then are all those mistakes really failures?
It all depends on your point of view. Failure stems from hastiness in the sense that most of us want instant gratification. Struggling through all these mistakes along the path to success and consistency is quite arduous; given a choice we would rather achieve perfection from the first try. However mistakes always exist at any skill level, we continuously learn, and mistakes are the way we measure our progress towards an ideal skill level. It doesn’t have to be school or work related it could be anything: spending time with your dog, going to the gym, taking meds regularly, if you can dream of doing it then this logic applies*. Instead of wishing that the mistake never occurred, view the mistake as a representation of what you are capable of. The hastiness and self-doubt hide who you truly are and simply represent what you wish to be.
So when a collection of “failures” adds up, does that make it a bad day? Or can you accept the fact that you are a work in progress? Even when others around you are contributing to your personal stress levels and lowering your quality of life into the consistent bad day category, there is still room to be positive. Other people are works in progress too and we can find their strengths and weaknesses as well. I’m not saying start admiring the positive attributes of mass murderers, but hopefully an open, positive mind will help you see the struggles towards progress others are facing as well. We are all in this journey together and even on the worst days lessons are learned and often times failure teaches us more than success. failure challenges us to fight parts of us or our environments we don’t like. Then shouldn’t that realization make every day a good day? Otherwise the lesson presented to us is being taken for granted. We are either enjoying our successes or learning how to improve even more, so from that standpoint we can justify every day as a good day.
Today could be the awful day. Today could be your best day. Today is what you make of it – said some random dude on the internet.
*If you’re having a bad day simply because of what you experienced, you are still on this journey my friend. Our ability to cope with external stressors is a learning process, everything is a learning process. Being anxious or depressed over things we can’t control is pretty futile. When thinking of the learning process, we can only learn how to cope with things we can’t control in order to stop them from dictating our thoughts.
This conversation was inspired by a talk I was having with my best friend concerning a person in our friend group. He was criticizing how conservative she was and how sometimes extremely rude and incorrect statements came out of her mouth. Then I turned to him and said,”She doesn’t do that to everyone. She truly trusts us with her honest opinions.” No matter what makes up your troubles or your awful day, we can apply a glass half full mentality. Life is simply too short to sit here complaining and worrying because I’ve probably already spent a quarter of my life doing that. Now it’s time to be positive, learn from the past, and spend more time doing and less time stressing.
One final note: if you ever feel down, feel free to contact me via e-mail and I can write you a personalized post of inspiration! I can take a couple minutes out of my day to make someone else feel good about themselves. Even the worst life situations present learning opportunities.