Friday, June 26, 2009

The next time around

At the beginning of each semester, the exact same thoughts go through my head. And I am steadfast, determined to change. This time around, I will not wait until the last minute to get the work done, whether it is preparing an oral presentation, writing a paper or even just reading the books. Secondly, I will actually do the homework and thus in the given frame time. Finally, I will study throughout the semester so I will not turn into this impossible stress bomb during the final exams. At the beginning of each semester, as I review the last one, I get to fully understand that this time really needs to be different; because  even though this system might have allowed me to get passing grades on the final report card in the past, that additional dosage of pressure could have been avoided by not being ill-timed.

But somehow, I cannot seem to stay focused and continue with this determined, fierce attitude that I had just a few months ago. Like any New Year's resolutions, I do not hold onto those good intentions (not as long as I wished to, anyway.) It is not that I gave up on these solutions because they were too hard to handle; but sincerely, becoming lazy along the way is the most common reason for getting off track, falling back into 'bad' habits again. Furthermore, I know for a fact that many students such as myself demand the pressure of time to work more effectively. So once more, I wait until the last minute to get the work done: preparing a presentation in such a hurry, writing a 2500 word paper in one night or only reading the required books when the exam is a few days away. Perhaps luckily enough, my homework will be half-done, but never in the given frame time. Last but not least, instead of studying throughout the semester like I promised I would, I find myself putting the full turbo in the last couple of weeks. Another semester goes by and all feels repetitive, only this time (hopefully!), I simply get to deal with different subjects and have other exams to take. I do despise this way of studying, as I am well aware of the repercussions. But it often remains a cycle, and God knows I have no one else to blame but myself.

All through our life, every year, every semester, and every day -- even more so when we consider it a new beginning (New Year, birthdays, moving into a new era...) -- we start off with great intentions in particular when we want to heal some mistakes, in (desperate) need of making changes. The next time around, we know better. This statement not only affects life at University like stated above, but after careful consideration, we are filled with resolutions in so many various areas in life: we know better influences the smallest detail as well as all the major decisions we make. The next time around, we know better when it comes to love and relationships: "I will not make the same mistakes again. It will be different with the next man/woman." We know better when the lifestyle we have adopted does not do us any good: "It is a new year, I need to eat more healthy or do sports regularly." The next time around, we know better since we drank one too many glasses on that last night-out: "I will never drink as much. That hangover was definitely not worth it."

Without doubt, some of us have kept our resolutions like we promised. Students got more serious, smokers stopped smoking and many found true love after numerous failed relationships. But once again, like many of those resolutions we take at the start of the semester, it is more common that the follow-through we were opting for might not follow through (never entirely, anyway.) All feels repetitive, and it remains a cycle: there are experiences, journeys and especially results that could have been avoided because we got our lesson, dealt with our mistakes. This time around, were we not supposed to know better? There are men/women we should stay away from; yet we still manage to follow in the same footsteps, getting involved with the 'wrong' person again. There is food we should stay away from but we still manage to bend our rules again (and again.) Once more, we should have left out that last glass of champagne but thinking we can still handle it, we manage to fall in the same hole again.

This is the next time around, and we know better. So why is it so common to still get off track? And God knows that, this time around, we have no one else to blame but ourselves.

We say we learn from our mistakes and we become a little wiser every time we stumble and fall. But, in all honesty, it is often more an easy thing to say that an actual, always realizable statement. It is neither pessimism nor a lack of faith in human kind, and of course it is not insinuated that people cannot ever change. But even though breaking the pattern is not impossible, I believe it is not stretched out enough just how very hard of a task it is: whether we want to improve the smallest detail in our lives or get major changes done. "Rising again after the fall" is more than a favorite quote. It is more than opening another fortune cookie at the Chinese restaurant. It is more than reading the horoscope. We can only consider change a real change when we are able to successfully apply the lesson this time around...

Talking about going the distance.

Immediately, I came to the conclusion that above everything, more than managing to keep those resolutions, we need to give ourselves a little more credit when it comes to the things we want to change, and are willing to fight for. I think the most important lesson of all -- that we often forget to fully grasp -- is to be reasonable and take likely, actually realizable resolutions. It is understandable to aim high and want a 360 degrees turn in no time. Yet it is a reality that we do not reform a lifestyle in just a few months, we do not attain our dream body in only a week and we can always learn from (and about) love. Furthermore, one of the reasons why we cannot hold onto our resolutions long enough is because it is quite difficult to stay on the right path when we do not get positive responses right away. So we should first distinguish our strengths as well as our weaknesses. It also helps a whole lot to have someone (or more) believe in us, especially when we fail to believe in ourselves. And the next time (hopefully!), we'll act a little wiser. At the end, we are human after all, and it is normal to fall even when this time around, we were supposed to know better.Having setbacks is all part of the process. At times, we are too hard on ourselves and only look at the big picture, when on the contrary: we should perceive the small changes that will lead to the big picture. Eventually. We'll get it right sooner or later. A combination of hard work and perseverance is what makes change possible. After all, "Rome was not built in one day."