I have not always been a glass-half-full type of person. Even now, when I make a conscious effort to see the silver lining (and all those sunny cliques), I still find myself stumbling back into the mindset of complaining and laziness sometimes. But once I realized how much changing your attitude can “change your life” (at least according to psychologist and Ted Talker Kelly McGonigal, check out her TedTalk here), I found myself happier and more productive when I tried to find the positives in undesirable situations. Life is stressful enough without making it harder for yourself through negative thinking.
I found myself at the peak of my stress during my junior and senior years of high school, when I was loaded down with strenuous AP classes, extracurriculars, college applications (and scholarships, and acceptances, and decisions, but that’s another story), and staggering expectations for myself to top it all off. If I couldn’t look to the light at the end of the tunnel, finally making it to my college of choice, I would’ve had no motivation to keep working my hardest and powering through the seemingly endless hours of homework and studying. While I know I should brace myself for much harder courses now that I’m a college student, high school was still extremely stressful and was a different kind of environment that harbored unnecessary stress for me.
High school was by no means “the best four years of my life”, but I’m glad for that. While I do have some fond memories from high school, the overall experience was a negative one. Even just my short semester of college this summer showed me how much more to life there is than those long 8 hour days moving from class to class. Making it to college with scholarships and AP credit in hand made it all worth it; that had been the goal all along.
I don’t wish for any student to have to face stress and anxiety like I did during high school, but I did try to grow from the process and learn what I can do to avoid excess stress in the future. During my senior year, I found a community of Twitter accounts totally dedicated to positivity and making people happy, and it seriously changed my outlook. By following some of the accounts teeming with affirming and inspiring messages, I had daily reminders on my regular news feed of the good things in life and why it’s important to keep going. It seems petty that something as simple as following these positive accounts could really make a difference, but it did. The accounts focus on uplifting others, enjoying the little things in life, and celebrating even tiny victories. Their overall happy, grateful, do-good message was truly contagious and helped me cultivate a mindset that allowed me to feel better about myself and the life I’m living.
Not only did I begin looking forward to messages of these accounts, I found it refreshing to find a community so focused on love amidst a newsfeed too often full of the hate and tragedies of this world. Of course, these accounts weren’t the only thing that changed my mind to believe that the glass really is half full, exercising more and relying on my friends and family for support helped too. I’ve taken what I’ve learned into my transition to college, which involved a whole new slew of stressors, but since I had learned how to deal with the stress and fight the negativity, I was prepared to deal with the unavoidable stress of college, not let it get the best of me, and enjoy all the new experiences.
My message to you is this: if you find yourself unreasonably stressed out, do something about it, as Kelly McGonigal shows in her video, stress is bad for you, so why make it harder on yourself? Simple things like practicing deep breathing, visualizing success, and building a support system of people you can trust can help you better manage the stress.
If you’re a high school student, know that it really does get better, there is so much more to life than those four years.
If you can’t change the situation you’re in, you can change your mindset and how you react to it.
Que sera sera, whatever will be, will be.