OPINION: We can’t always choose our path in life, but we can choose what attitude we have

In one of my classes last week, people were talking about how people couldn’t necessarily choose how successful they were; many people don’t get to choose whether they rise out of poverty. 

I agreed with this, but the discussion got me thinking. Is my life mine? Is it under my control? Or is my life a piece of driftwood being tossed around in a stormy sea? 

Or in other words, is it my fault that I didn’t turn in the essay on time, or am I the victim of circumstances beyond my control? 

I reflected on this while procrastinating on one of my assignments, wondering if my procrastination was a choice I was making. I mean, I could just get to work. I could choose to get to work, which would set off a chain of events that would result in a high grade on both the assignment and in the class. 

Or I could’ve focused on self-care (aka YouTube) since, to be honest, I’ve been feeling really swamped this semester — I’m tired and feel just a little depressed. My brain couldn’t handle another massive essay that’s worth a huge portion of my grade. At least not right then.

In short, try for the best and prepare for the worst.

Then, I had an epiphany.

Though I cannot choose what happens to me in life (who hires me, the welfare of the economy, etc.), I can choose what attitude I have.

For example, I can choose to believe that grades are everything and that nothing else matters. Or, I can choose my mental wellbeing and not give too much thought about what my GPA will mean once I graduate.

In other words, what do I want from life? 

I don’t know if I want a quiet life, back in my hometown of 5,000 in rural Arizona, or if I want to pursue a life of success in the big city, something I call the California dream.

Now, those questions will be answered in time, and probably in a way I won’t expect (life is wonderful that way), but what I do know is that I need to do my best no matter what.

I should get back to work, and I should probably work smarter, not harder. 

I will look for efficient ways for getting my work done.

And once again, I will consider using a planner to schedule my time. 

But I’m not sure this is the best way.

Far too often, people are held responsible for the circumstances they find themselves in (for example, being impoverished), when in fact the system is failing them.

After all, there are certainly things that the 5Cs can do to help me succeed.

Like improving Monsour Counseling (short wait times would be duly appreciated). Or having more time-management workshops.

However, deep down, I know that ultimately, it is up to me if I want to succeed in college. Even if the 5Cs underwent all these improvements, I will still have to choose whether I want to take advantage of these resources. I’m not saying this to say that colleges shouldn’t do their utmost to help their students succeed; they absolutely should.

What I am saying is that sometimes the quality of institutional support (as well as other external circumstances) is outside of an individual’s control and that often, a person has to depend on oneself (and his/her/their friends and family) for success. And if success seems out of reach, then perhaps one could change his/her/their definition of success to avert feelings of inadequacy and failure. 

In short, one should take one’s success in college into their own hands, whether it be through improving one’s study habits or by stepping back and choosing mental wellbeing over one’s GPA.

In short, try for the best and prepare for the worst.

And good luck on the rest of the semester!

John Gibson PO ’22 is a prospective history major from Kayenta, Arizona, in the Navajo Nation. He recently finished watching Avatar: The Last Airbender for the first time.

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