Curiosity over Despair

Here in the TAMS environment, we’re surrounded by people with a wide variety and multitude of talents, beyond merely math and science. Sometimes we hear about other people’s talents and accomplishments and we start thinking about what we ourselves have to offer. In such a high-pressure environment, it’s inevitable to compare ourselves to others,  especially given the inherently competitive nature of the TAMS community. Being constantly surrounded by people who have such great achievements, sometimes comparing ourselves to others makes us feel small. We think about how easy and how well some people accomplish things but how it might take much more effort for us to accomplish even less than them. Sometimes there are tasks and concepts that just seem hard for us to understand, and we get discouraged about how we’ll be able to learn and handle things in our future careers. Sometimes it feels like we’re not good enough, that we don’t have enough talent, and that we don’t achieve enough. This impulsive process of constant comparison to others can make us feel like we don’t know anything, that we have nothing to offer and can ultimately even make us feel worthless in comparison. We look at what other people have that we don’t have and it just continues in a depressing cycle of getting disappointed in ourselves and getting concerned about our abilities.

Like everyone else, I’ve felt that discouraging pain from comparing myself to others. There’s just something about even my highest standards being nowhere even close to some people’s level that just makes me feel dejected.

Despite having gotten so worried over how little I’m actually capable of and how I’ll ever be able to manage to finish my education and getting a career, recently I’ve begun to develop a new sense of motivation. Although there have been times in my life where I’ve questioned it, I’ve always gone back to wanting to be an electrical engineer. Obviously, Physics 2, Electricity and Magnetism, is essential material to understand in the field. When I’m having difficulties understanding the material in class, I start to get really worried about how I’ll fare in the field of my dreams. Seeing other people understand the material without that much difficulty while I struggle doesn’t make me feel any better either. It’s all too easy to start falling into despair and to start considering giving up on pursuing the field altogether. Yet there are moments that motivate me to persevere through it. They’re moments where things of interest to me are being discussed in class, and I just start feeling excited to learn new things about them. Even though the difficulty of learning the new material is usually high and I usually don’t understand all of it, those moments made me want to learn more about it for a change. Slowly I realized that I was transitioning from feeling discouraged by not knowing and understanding a lot to feeling motivated to learn new things. I started seeing that instead of feeling dejected when hearing other people discussing things way beyond the scope of my understanding, I should feel excited to pursue and work hard to eventually learn them.

I just wanted to share this attitude with all of you because I think it could really help you feel a little less negative about yourselves. Instead of dejectedly comparing your capabilities and accomplishments to those of other people and feeling like you know little now, try to motivate yourself by thinking about the opportunities you can make for yourself to improve.

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