The Inspiration Episode
The Inspiration Episode
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Need to find a little inspiration? Maybe you feel overwhelmed by work or lacking energy because of the weather. I wanted to create an episode specifically for those times when you need your own little motivational speaker in your head. I’m dedicating this episode to those hardworking college students in my life. You know who you are.
What I’m going to tell you is not based on formal research. It is not a collection of platitudes gleaned from the internet or found on coffee mugs. These ideas are valuable simply because of their cost – I learned these only after decades spent on college campuses, after sacrifice and worry.
Right now, you need a little dose of truth.
Your past does not determine your future. Your past does not hold the steering wheel; you do. If you find yourself thinking, “Because this happened in the past, something negative will happen in the future,” you are wrong. Yes, people repeat mistakes, but your prior mistake is not controlling you. Your past does not determine your future. Don’t let yourself fall into that trap.When you study, you never start from zero. You always have some background knowledge. If you are nervous about studying for a test, remind yourself that you don’t have to study ALL of the material, you just have to study about 20% of it—the 20% you didn’t quite grasp the first time around. That is possible. You never start from zero when you study.Picture yourself ten or fifteen years from now. You will not remember this test, exam, or paper. You may not even remember taking this course. Oh, there’s value in it – make no mistake—but the value is in how it changes your approach, your ability to analyze, to evaluate, question, or convince. Do not INFLATE the importance of this one event in your life – the river of your live will continue to flow regardless of this outcome.Are you haunted by mistakes or disappointments? Have you fallen into the trap of believing you are the only one who has made this mistake and everyone else is living their best life? That is a fallacy. Your mistakes and disappointments are not sink holes; they are your collective wisdom. Some day you will pass on this wisdom to someone else who desperately needs it.Do not make grades your entire identity. Always remind yourself that there is probably someone smarter than you in the room. Keep in mind, the runner who is focused on the person in the next lane usually loses. Don’t get caught up in competition; focus on nurturing your strengths.Your present situation is temporary. Even if you are not in a good place, that will change. Things do get better. People without a job, get one. People without a degree, get one. Almost every difficulty has a solution. Sometimes the solution is time.You are capable of learning anything! You do not have limits. You do not have compartments for your talents. You can learn to ski and play the guitar. You can learn physics and theology. You can paint and play rugby. This is what one of my favorite thinkers, Bishop Robert Barron, calls “the great both/and paradox of life.” Any boundaries you place, any barriers you throw up, are FALSE. You can learn anything you pay attention to.You have total control over nearly everything in your life. You also have the ability to choose peace and acceptance for those things you cannot change, BUT most of what you think cannot be changed, CAN.When we feel down, we believe we are stuck, and that nothing will change. Yet, we have the power to change nearly everything. Don’t believe me? Try this. You are 18, 19, maybe 21 years old. I am several decades ahead of you in the game of life.I questioned things; now, I’m confident. I was confident, but now I question things. I was alone, now I’m married. I was childless; now I’m a grandmother without ever being a mother. I was stifled with debt; now I own a home. I was stuck in a job; now I have many options. You have the power to change nearly everything.The most powerful thing we can change is our own attitude. Viktor Frankl said this in Man’s Search for Meaning.When faced with suffering, what if instead of seeing it as punishment, you viewed it as being trained for great things by the author of the universe? What hero is not trained? What good is someone who has never faced adversity? Stop the self-pity and understand that you will reap some benefits down the road in wisdom, compassion, and empathy at the very least.Avoid cynics. Positive people are more effective, more persuasive, successful, generous, and happy.Does something look easy for others? Ha! It’s an illusion. Most people work really hard and face failure before they succeed. Don’t fall for that illusion.See people around you – really see them. You will see courage everywhere. Hope is all around you.You are precious. You are worthy. You are unique. You are needed. Just as you are.
Now, go do your best work. The world needs you.
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