A Novice’s Guide to Confidence, Setbacks, and the Future
When I look back at my childhood, I see I am more or less the same person I was when I was a kid. I still have diverse academic interests, an insatiable curiosity, an even more insatiable appetite, and an naively romanticized view of life. Despite this continuity, there is one thing that has changed: I’m really worried—about everything.
A Common Ailment
Maybe it’s just my unique experience at Berkeley, but I feel like this is a pretty common sentiment. Even though Cal students have a pretty high chance of not screwing up their lives majorly, we tend to stress out about exams, relationships, our future, and just about anything else we could possibly worry over. In our defense, this worrying is a sign of our responsibility and ability to deal with the world practically, but it is also an impediment to success and an unnecessary source of tension in what is dubbed to be “the greatest time of your life.” While I’m not professional, I have dealt with these anxieties over the past few years and would like to share some advice on how to overcome these powerful sentiments.
Resilience: The Name of the Game
While some people are fortunate enough to go through their lives without failure, most of us have had at least one, if not many more, setback to cope with. What separates the successful from the not-so-much isn’t circumstance, but what one makes of circumstance. In other words: don’t let rejection or failures bring you down. Keep on trying. Seriously, I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been rejected, whether it be colleges, jobs, internships, volunteer positions, women, and even Facebook friend requests. But I can’t let this constant rejection bog me down, because I know have to keep on trying until I succeed in whatever endeavor I’m attempting.
Fan Clubs Are Convenient
Sometimes you can’t go it all on your own, and there is no shame in admitting you need others. In fact, this is a sign of humility and self-awareness (also important for success). We all have tons of fans, many of whom we don’t even realize. It doesn’t have to be solely our closest friends and family: that one person you talk to once a week in your discussion can be of great relief and support if need be, as can that one person you added on Facebook but never talked to since (admit it: we all have them). This doesn’t mean you should spill your heart to everyone you know, but be aware that there are lots of people out there who care.
Missed Opportunities, or Blessings in Disguise?
Whenever something we care about goes awry, we think about the hypotheticals, what could have happened if things didn’t turn out poorly. But this contemplation is often one sided: rarely do we ever consider the positives that resulted from this. Perhaps you were rejected from a volunteer position, a turn of events that would most certainly be disheartening, but the position itself may have taken your time up and prevented you from doing other things. Or take a date gone sour: maybe you will have missed out on a future romantic encounter, but if you were not very compatible, it is better you find out earlier than later.
If All Else Fails, Take a Step Back
Sometimes it’s impossible to rationalize any kind of setback: in cases such as these, the best thing to do is contextualize your struggle. You’re at the premier public institution in the world: chances are you’re going to have some level of success in your life. I think people really fail to understand this: you’re not a high-school dropout (no offense to high-school dropouts), you don’t lack marketable skills, and you certainly don’t lack intelligence. Don’t let the Berkeley prestige get to your head, but let it remind you of your achievements and prowess.
Article by Billal Ahmed
Feature Image Source: Allugot