Enough Small Talk! How to Make Real Friendships While at UTM

University is busy, and making friends is hard. Believe me, as a budding first year student, I get the struggle. It took a long time to get the friends I have now.

Even so, I still struggle with this aspect, and I know a lot of students do, too. Then, how do you move beyond that meaningless small talk and make some deeper friendships? Here are some techniques on how to make lasting friendships:

  1. Sit beside someone who is sitting alone.

    I like to call this “selecting your victim”(just kidding…). Find someone in the lecture hall who’s sitting alone and just sort of staring at their book, or scrolling through Tumblr on their phone, or flipping through their notes. Believe me, they may look intimidating or busy, but they’re likely craving some regular human interaction just like you. I know because I am this person in math class, looking at all of the happy friends while sitting by myself (I had recently lost the only friends group I had in math class and have become a drifter).

    To do this, just slink beside them, give them a nod as they look up at you boredly, and open your notes. Act natural, and they’ll never suspect your true intentions.

    Image result for university lecture hall students sitting next to each other

    Who shall it be today?

  2. Initiate small talk.

    Yes, this includes the weather. This is when you lean over and initiate the tiniest and least intimidating of conversations, small talk. My personal favourites:

    1. “Isn’t it freezing today?”
    2. “So, what program/year/course are you in? …Wow, that’s fancy, sounds    interesting!”
    3. “Isn’t (insert school/academic related activity) so annoying?”
    4. “Hey, do you have the solution for (insert assignment or question)?”
    5. “So, what are you planning to major in then?….Hey, I heard the job prospects there were (good/fair/bad).”

    Etc, etc, you get the point. Remember: only ask them their name once the conversation is done. Makes it less formal and awkward, plus it sounds like you’re sealing the deal.:

    “Oh, by the way, I didn’t catch your name. I’m Aqsa, and you?”

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    Ah, small talk, the bane of every introvert.

  1. Get their contact information.

    Whether it be their Facebook, Messenger, Snapchat, Instagram, Whatsapp, email, or their regular old phone number, find a way to get in contact with them. I usually get this by offering to help them with schoolwork (which I always follow through with of course!). If you’re connecting outside of class, then you have a greater potential to be friends, especially if your text conversations begin to include unacademic content.

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    Yes, yes…let the friendship grow.

  2. Repetition.

    Sit next to them again next class. Wave to them in the hallways. Make more small talk. This involves interacting with them again and again, regularly, so they get used to your presence (and vice-versa). Become comfortable with each other, even if you begin just as “that other person who is in my class” or as an acquaintance.

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    Better yet, get there early and save THEM a seat!

  3. Go beyond small talk.

    Friendships cannot flourish unless there’s some sort of emotional connection; this is the primary reason people seek out company. Start introducing deeper topics that makes you both learn more about each others’ opinions and feelings. These go beyond typical “Who, What, Where, When” questions and enter the “Why” and “How” questions, which is deeper territory. Here are some of my favourites:

    1. “What is your opinion on _____? …I agree/disagree, because ______.
    2. “Why did you choose to come to university? How do you think it will change you as a person?”
    3. Why do you think people are so materialistic? What do you think is the purpose of brand names anyways, do you think they’re effective?”
    4. “Why do you think that?”
    5. “Do you consider yourself self-aware?”

    These questions get both of you pondering and strike up an interesting discussion. It’s a great way to bond emotionally and learn more about someone else.

  4. Invite them to study.

    Now you’re moving beyond classroom setting and starting to meet them outside of lectures, but you’re still in that comfortable “academic territory” that makes it less awkward.

    This is your opportunity to get a little more cozy with them and build a lot of trust. Share notes, give tips, explain concepts, and reel them in with your vast knowledge of the course material. If you’re studying together, you’re communicating trust, wisdom, and reliability. Not only that, but it’s a win-win situation: both of you get to learn something new and improve your education, while also making friends!

  5. Invite them for Tim Horton’s.

    I’m a firm believer in the bonding power of tea and coffee. Sitting across from someone while sharing a delicious cuppa is the best way to bond (in my humble opinion). You can chat about literally anything, or just sit in silence enjoying the light aroma of your steeped tea or the strong undertones of your double double.

    As an added note: taking someone out to Tim Horton’s isn’t only affordable and convenient, but it’s the subtle, Canadian way of saying “you are valued and I want to be your friend”.

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    Nothing says “let’s be best friends” like a tray of coffee and a 10 pack box of Timbits.

Congratulations! You’re now unofficial friends!

 

 

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One Thing You Shouldn’t Do on Your Commute.

Commutes can get pretty dull. Ranging anywhere from 10 minutes to 2 hours, there’s a lot of time to kill at the beginning and end of your day. Then, what do you fill this time with? Here are a few ideas from a fellow commuter.

 

WHAT NOT TO DO:

In my humble opinion, here’s what you shouldn’t do on your commute:

WORK.

Yes, yes, I’m aware it’s a very unpopular opinion (after all, shouldn’t you be using your break to organize your day and catch up on readings?) but this is honest advice I believe people should heed.

Put it into perspective: you’re doing work all of the time.

That lunch break you have? You’re planning to do your physics assignment while eating.
That two hour gap after sociology? You’re planning on studying for your psychology test.
Those ten minutes before your math class starts? You’re going to flip through your biology notes for a quick refresher.

Then…when will you give yourself a mental break?

See, commute time is a time when you can zone out with absolutely no consequence. There isn’t a teacher or a TA or a group member breathing down your neck, waiting for your assignment. The rest of your work can happen when you get home. Commute time is like limbo: you’re suspended in time, waiting until you can either get home or go to school. It blissful, it’s relaxing, it’s wonderful.

On a bus, the only thing on your to-do list should be to let your mind drift and clear your thoughts. A rested mind will accept information readily, while a prepared but stressed mind will reject more information.

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Exactly!

I use the very strange analogy of a trash can. Over the course of a few days, the garbage can in the kitchen can get REALLY full, but everyone in the household is too lazy to empty it out. You know it’s overflowing but you’re not ready to empty it, so the next time you need to throw something away you futilely shove it in the garbage in an attempt to make room. You keep doing this until you realize that the bottom of the bag has actually ripped and the garbage is coming out. This could have been avoided had you taken out the trash.

Same with knowledge. Over the course of a few days, your brain is filled with information, thoughts, and daydreams that haven’t been processed. You keep trying to shove in more information, which works until you realize you’re starting to forget more important things.

Your daily commute is the perfect time to “take out the trash” and process your thoughts to keep you refreshed throughout the week.

WHAT TO DO

  1. Listen to music

    This one’s a pretty obvious one. Download your favourite tracks the night before so you don’t eat up data during the commute, and make sure to invest in a good pair of headphones. I recently bought wireless headphones for $30 online with free shipping, they’ve really made my commute better!

  2. Sleep

    They should really make 8AM classes illegal since it means I have to wake up at 5:40AM to take a 6:40AM bus (no one should have to wake up this early!). Thank goodness the seats are cushy enough to support my falling-asleep-on-the-bus habits. Bonus if you bring a mini blanket with you!

    (No joke, I’ve literally brought blankets with me to school before. Absolutely no regrets, and you’ll be the coziest one in class!).

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    Cozy over cold, right?

  3. Read

    I know, I know, it’s not like you don’t have enough reading to do already, eh? But there’s a huge difference between recreational reading and academic reading; the former is WAY more fun and interesting than the latter and can even be refreshing.

    Mosey over to the library and sign out your favourite genre of book or manga, it’ll be great to bury yourself into a good plot and great character development again!

  4. Audio books

    I’ve never tried this, but I’ve been told by many people that it’s an amazing and relaxing thing to do. So, there you have it!

  5. Stare out the window and contemplate the mysteries of the universe

    Where else do deep, philosophical, mind-blowing ideas come from? Contemplation breeds contentedness and nourishes the soul.

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    “Is it considered guacamole if you just add salt and pepper?”

  6. Have an existential crisis

    As defined by good-ol’ Google:

    “An existential crisis is a moment at which an individual questions the very foundations of their life: whether this life has any meaning, purpose, or value.”

    What better time to do this than your daily commute? The occasional existential crisis does help you become a lot more self-aware, and helps you in your growth during university.

    (Of course, I mean this jokingly).

So, lay back, pick your favourite song, and close your eyes for a bit during your next commute. Your mind and body will thank you!

Got any other commuter tips or advice? Leave a comment below!

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How UTM’s Nature Trail Improved My Uni Experience

University has been great so far.

With good friends, a great campus, flexible schedules, cool assignments, and interesting opportunities. It’s everything the brochure said it would be…but

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These are the things that keep me up at 2AM in the morning apparently (from owlturd.com)

…recently, I’ve been feeling like something is missing from my university experience. Sure, I’ve tried joining clubs and I’ve made some new friends. I joined the program LAUNCH last semester to help ease my transition into university, which was interesting. I’ve tried not to limit my time to just studying, and am trying to incorporate some of my hobbies into my day. Even so, as I go about my regular routine, there’s something nagging at me. There’s something missing…

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It was only a few days ago in a conversation with my twin sister that I finally figured out what it could be.

I feel like this creeping feeling is the slow realization that I’m not using my university experience properly, where is my change? Everything is the same: I hop on the bus for an hour long commute, I go to school, I go home, I study, I sleep, and the cycle continues-nothing new.

Why does everything feel the same? Will it be this way forever? Mindless routines? Two lab reports a week, a pre-lab quiz every Friday, a club meeting on Monday, routine after routine after routine?

The answer: I needed a change. And fast.

Like many things, I have the ability to control and change this. I don’t have to be in this limbo forever. So, with an open mind, my sister and I went to try out the on-campus nature trail by IB in the fall, the one I kept hearing stories about from my LAUNCH leader.

At first, while I tried to keep an open mind, I couldn’t help but have expectations. I mean, it’s an on-campus nature trail available to everyone. I had no doubt it would be interesting and new, I just didn’t think its appearance would surprise me very much. I mean, at the end of the day, it’s just a forest. Right?

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When we reached the beginning of the trail, I was excited to see a sign that said “THIS PATH IS NOT MAINTAINED”. Oh! That could mean a lot of things, but what it screamed to me was “THIS IS AS NATURAL AS IT GETS”, which was one thing that pleasantly surprised me: I love the unbeaten path.

The first few steps in, I brushed past long branches and picked at leaves that stuck to my clothes. The entrance was narrow, and I was already feeling a thrill. This was new, this was different.

We turned the corner, and I couldn’t control the quiet little gasp that left my mouth.

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Now, I know the concept of autumn. Leaves change colour. Leaves fall. Leaves get smushed on the ground. Sure, I know it’s supposed to be really pretty in the country, but since I live in the suburbs, I’ve never really experienced the so-called “colourful wonderland” that the movies say it should be, especially in Canada.

Nothing prepared me for what I saw:

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It was like something straight out of a fairytale. The first thing that hit me was how bright everything was: the leaves, the colours, the moss, the tree trunks, the sky. The light shone through the leaves and made it seem as though the tips of the branches were on fire, as they were a bright yellow-orange. Sunlight changed dramatically; one minute, you felt like you were walking through a magical fairy world, the next minute you were trudging through a darker, more somber walkway.

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It was like something straight out of Final Fantasy VII’s Advent Children

It was a mystery I never knew existed, the change in pace I needed.

Needless to say, I enjoyed that walk very much.

Now, whenever I’m feeling a little wistful or when I’ve got a bit of extra time, I’ll grab a friend and head over to the trail that captivated my on first glance. It’s a refreshing escape from the perils of university life for a number of reasons:

  • It helps you reconnect with nature
  • It helps you reconnect with your spirituality, like a form of meditation
  • It gives you a breather from school work
  • It provides you with some exercise (you know, the kind you’ve been neglecting for the month because assignments keep piling up and there’s no time to go to the gym)
  • It rests your eyes (greenery and the colour green are therapeutic for your eyes!)

Here are the rest of the pictures. It was a great experience for me, and I highly recommend you all check it out when the weather gets warmer!

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How to Write A”Truck-Stop Burrito” Written Piece and Ace Your Midterm Essay

Essay writing is hard and annoying.

To make it easier to understand, we can divide essays into two types: the “filet mignon” essay and the “truck-stop burrito” essay (these labels can be credited to my role model and high school philosophy teacher, Mr. Dollimore).

The “filet mignon” essay is the type of essay you write for an assignment. This requires you to make it all nice and pretty, add all the extra creative details that make professors sleep easy at night, and doll it up with a fancy cover page. You can fill it with fluff and still get a decent mark. Teacher expectations: HIGH.

The “truck-stop burrito” essay is the type of essay you write on a test. Picture writing a test like being on a road trip. After a long, tiring journey, you find your stomach grumbling. Do you head for the fancy filet mignon, or do you feel satisfied with the oily, week-old truck-stop burrito? In that moment, even the cheap, no effort food tastes delicious. That’s the level your test essay should be at. You just have to nab the points and add enough words to make full sentences, but be careful: every point counts. Teacher expectations: LOW.

Each type requires different tips and tricks. To ace a test essay, here’s some advice you should take with a grain of salt follow:

  1. Brainstorm…LIKE CRAZY.

No, seriously. Just dump words everywhere. Every little relevant point you can think of, every small jot you can think of, any pieces of a definition, just vomit it all down on the paper. When it’s there, you can use it. When it’s in your head…not so much.

For example, let’s say you’re given the question:

To what extent is morality a matter of context? How important are circumstances in determining what is moral?

Your paper might look something like this:

pic1

Immediately, what I did was TAKE A POSITION/STANCE THAT DIRECTLY ADDRESSES THE QUESTION (in this case, I said morality IS based on context). If you’re struggling to find a position, use the one you can think of more points for.

Another notable point: I wrote down some EXAMPLES. This will form the chunk of your paragraph. If you can think of examples, even just regurgitating those examples will cover the point for you.

Another notable point: after writing a whole bunch of stuff, I identified some things I could define. Definitions eat up word count, directly confront material, and make you look super smart and knowledgeable. Checkmate.

Lastly, if you don’t understand the question, write stuff down anyways. I saw the word morality and context, so I wrote down “moral realism vs. moral relativism” which I know deals with that. Didn’t even think about it. Once you’ve written some initial ideas down, you can reread the question to see if you can take something away or add something else.

  1. ORGANIZE your brainstorming.

This will help you form actual paragraphs. It helps here to know the general structure of an essay, which is an incredibly guiding tool during a test (though don’t feel too stuck to it):

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You know out of all that junk you just made, you need to somehow materialize three paragraphs, and those three paragraphs all have to connect back to some unifying topic you haven’t thought of yet. How do you do that? By grouping similar ideas. For example, let me take my garbage jots and turn it into something a little more organized:

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That’s a lot of illegible scribbles, so let’s turn it into actual paragraph points:

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  1. Write your THESIS.

Now I’ve got my paragraphs! But…what was the question asking again? What’s my thesis? Don’t I have to have a thesis?

Exactamundo, my friend! And this is the prime time to write one! How can you write a general statement without any points? Using your organized brainstorming, write down your thesis. Now, here’s the secret formula to the perfect truck-stop burrito thesis:

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Yada yada, you get the point. Basically, just stick your three points together, address the question with your chosen position, and add enough words to make it make sense and line up with your argument.

In this case, we might write:

Moral Realists, deontologists, and those who follow virtue ethics would all agree that circumstances as well as concrete principles determine what is moral.

Note: when you’re done writing your essay, REREAD THE THESIS! I’ve gotten marks off many times for silly reasons, because I changed my point midway and my thesis and essay didn’t agree anymore.  (In this specific example, I didn’t realize that deontologists and virtue ethics were practically the same thing, so I lost marks there).

  1. Start writing your BODY PARAGRAPHS.

If you’re like me, the introductory paragraph will elude you. You’ll sit there trying to think of something witty, and when nothing comes up you’ll scratch your head as time is ticking. What do you do?

Write down what you know. What’s that? Your body paragraphs!

Remember: you can leave a space for your intro and get back to it once you’ve written the rest of it. Don’t try to waste time writing something perfect. This is TRUCK-STOP BURRITO people, not the filet mignon.

For your intro: a few relevant sentences and your thesis is enough. It’s enough.

Your body paragraphs can be structured using this wonderfully efficient formula:

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Convenient and easy! What’s hard is actually writing it, but this little structure does the bulk of the work for you. Take notice of the guiding questions!

  1. Piece everything TOGETHER.

Ergo: WRITE IT. JUST WRITE IT.

You’d better sharpen that pencil and crack those knuckles, because time is ticking and you need to start writing. For the pen users. I recommend a smooth pen with black ink. Beautiful and therapeutic. For the pencil users, sharpen that thing until it makes a satisfying scratch against that paper (because dull pencils are the abomination of this world).

There’s no way around this, but now that you’ve gotten a little organized, you can piece things together easily. That’s about all I can say.

Strategies for Keeping Your Cool

Neck aching? Fingers throbbing? Make sure to take breathers so you’re not losing your point and losing your mind:

  • Look up, straighten your shoulders, breathe. This’ll help you gather your bearings and keep a clear head.
  • Stop writing and skim over your paragraph. If it makes sense, read the end of the previous paragraph and then read your paragraph. Still make sense? Read your thesis and reread the topic sentence of your paragraph. Still good? Then you’re doing great!
  • Keep extra pencils and pens. Not for if one breaks or runs out of ink, but for a nice, smooth replacement when your current utensil becomes a little hard to use. Keeping a smooth flow really helps.
  • Drink water (but not too much). Taking a sip is like taking a mental breather.
  • As much as you can, flex your fingers! They deserve a break, too.

Do these, and you’ll be on your way to acing that essay question!

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New Year, Old Me, with Determination and a Card Tower…

With a new year comes a new semester, and the time for some serious reflection.

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Me having an existential crisis, a daily routine

All of the laziness and relaxing after the hectic first semester really got me to zone in on my strengths and my weaknesses. I had slacked so much that it felt like I was walking through a fog, or that there was fuzz in my brain. It made even simple tasks like basic math or simply paying attention incredibly difficult because I couldn’t bring myself to do anything.

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Ah, Mob, I relate to you so hard.

There’s only so lazy you can be before you’re just tired of being lazy. Because of my restlessness, I was able to kick myself in the butt and force myself to self-reflect. First things first: I needed to determine whether my marks were where I wanted to be, and to figure out how to give my final semester the push it needed for me to succeed so I don’t end up drifting like I did in first semester.

My biggest resolution? ORGANIZATION.

Getting lab reports done earlier, sleeping earlier, doing quizzes as soon as I can, putting a date on my notes, using my highlighter more often, you name it, I never did it in first semester. As a result, though my marks were alright, it felt like I was failing every single course.

This semester, I have a million extra things in addition to all of my school work. I have 2 jobs, a possible position in a laboratory, debate league stuff, and a new assignment/reading-heavy course. All of this will force me to become more organized in order to stay on top of my game.

That being said, here are my plans to kick my own butt and get into gear:

  1. START WORK EARLIER!

    • If any of you have lab reports too, just…do me and yourself a favour and start them early. You will save your health, sleep, and sanity.
  2. Review math notes and do problem sets dutifully every week

  3. Redo chemistry lecture problems

  4. Use my break time wisely

Other (more fun) resolutions worth mentioning:

  • Catch up on Gintama

    • This series is like 300 episodes long, and I’m only on episode 143…still got a long way to go.
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If you guys haven’t seen it yet, try it! It’s the silliest, weirdest humour you’ll ever encounter…ever.

  • Start a new anime series

    • You can never watch too much anime! Mob Psycho 100 was an amazing, amazing run and I want more like that.
    • (If you have suggestions, please comment with them!)
  • Draw more

    • A sweet friend of mine gave me a lovely sketchbook for Christmas, which I cherish now. Because of her small encouragement, I’m trying my best to get back on my drawing!
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My first drawing in my new sketchbook (which, of course, was a homage to Mob Psycho 100)

  • Be healthier overall (exercise, eating better, etc.)

    • All of the stress and studying during exams back in first semester destroyed my health because I stopped eating properly.
    • I barely exercised and basically sat around all day reading over my notes.
    • Now, I’m going to stretch more, use the stairs, incorporate more greens in my diet, and take small steps to a healthier lifestyle!
  • Build a card tower using every card I own:

    • During the break, I got into the hobby of making the tallest card tower I could using my UNO, Yu-Gi-Oh!, and regular cards. It started getting really intense, and now I’m trying my best to use all the cards at my disposal (although at this point, the card tower gets too heavy and just falls…hopefully I can find my way around that!
    • Here’s my little snap run showing my progress over the break (I’m sure my friends started to get sick of them, hahaha):

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Got any resolutions? Or are you thinking about just going with the flow? Share in the comments below!

“Learning to Fail” Story 1: Perseverance

I’ll begin this multi-part journey with a simple story about rejection and perseverance.


As I said in the introductory piece to this series, I was a perfectionist and overachiever who beat herself up over even the smallest failures, like a single red X amidst my hundred green check marks. Obviously, this mindset is never good if one wants to improve, but I wasn’t interesting in improving. I just wanted everything to be perfect.

Of course, life has a way of taking your biggest fears and shoving them down your throat, and that’s exactly what it did to me.

One of the biggest experiences that changed this destructive mindset of mine was my experience in research, participating in the Sanofi Biogenius Canada Competition in grade 12.

This was a competition in which high school students designed and executed real world research projects with mentors from universities and hospitals. I had a project, but without a mentor I couldn’t enter the competition. So, I had to suck in my gut, stand tall, and email hundreds of professors begging to let me into their lab.

After a few days of constant researching, emailing, and telephoning, my email sent folder looked like this. LITERALLY THIS WASN’T EVEN ALL OF IT:

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Over the course of a month, I had sent hundreds and hundreds of emails and painfully waited for the responses to pour in.

After 1 week: nothing.
The second week: nothing.
The third week, some emails trickled in. Excited and filled with hope (chanting the mantra “I definitely got it, they totally loved my proposal, that was so easy), I clicked on them.All of these emails were filled with the same disheartening responses:

“Unfortunately, my lab isn’t taking any undergrads at this time.”
“Unfortunately, this isn’t my area of expertise.”
“Unfortunately, we do not have the materials you need.”

The weeks passed. Literally every single email I received had the same harsh rejection.

This went on for a while. The moment an email would start with the short preview “Unfort–” I would immediately put my phone down and re-evaluate whether I wanted to do this at all. There was even one moment where a professor had completely destroyed my proposal. This was his response to my proposal:

“Let me first say that the last thing I would want to do is to discourage someone interested in science…but there are several issues with your proposal.  First, although cancer is a really important issue, and I would never dismiss its importance and even though I am not a cancer specialist, I am pretty sure that the statement that “the incidences of cancers have been rising steadily in North America” is false.  …More important is the implied hypothesis of your proposal…”

He then proceeded to comment on every sentence of my proposal in one massive paragraph, then wrote at the end:

“As much as I hate to discourage people interested in doing research, and I have had one high school student do research in my lab, there are several reasons why I will have to decline this request.”

Well then. I was completely discouraged after this.

But no! Out of all the emails I sent, there was NO WAY I would let one silly email destroy my goals. This was a respectable competition with thousands of dollars in prizes, and I wasn’t about to let a few rejections get in the way of that. In fact, I forced myself to take the step I hated the most, the step I didn’t want to do at all, the step that I was sure would crush my flimsy pride:

I emailed him a thank you letter and accepted the criticism.

Of course, it crushed my soul. I wrote that email feeling worse than I did before, but even so, I began to feel my shattered ego start piecing itself together again.

It was okay. People get rejections all the time, and yet they’ve been able to pick themselves up and move on. Why couldn’t I?

Then a few days and some more emails later, a sliver of hope, peeking out from behind the mass of rejections. An email titled with words that made my heart beat a little faster:

“Interested in your proposal.”

This was someone who had complimented my advances, expressed interest in my research proposal, and asked to set up an interview.

And so I learned an incredibly important lesson about perseverance: if it had not been for those 999 failures, I would never have gotten that single position at the St. Michael’s lab.

Stay tuned for part 3: HONESTY.

“Learning to Fail”: How An Odd Paradox Can Help You Succeed

Failure is a hard concept to swallow.

Back in early high school, I used to be a high 90s student. I was at the top of the class, was close friends with my teachers, made honour roll every year, and lived the good life. I was that kid that went, “Oh, another 100? Meh, whatever,” and tossed it on the ever-growing pile of high marks. People looked to me for help with schoolwork, and I loved giving it. Needless to say, when you’re in that position, you feel like you can conquer anything.

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I FEEL INVINCIBLE!

When a person in a situation like mine finally hits a roadblock, it’s tough. Your ego takes a couple of hits, your self-esteem turns down a few notches, your future looks a little dimmer and it’s really, really, really tough to recover.

That feeling of failure…is a hard one to describe. Your stomach is churning, your eyes get blurry, your chest tightens a bit, and you begin an endless mantra of “I could have done better, I could have gotten a 90, if only I hadn’t slept so late, if only I wasn’t so stupid, if only…!

What’s sad to me is that people think this is a normal attitude towards failure. “Of course it’s natural!” one person might argue. “With an attitude like that, you’ll be able to improve your weaknesses.”

“How else will you be motivated to study?” another person might say. “If you’re not driven to correct your failures, you’ll never study.”

All legitimate arguments, but there’s a bit of a problem: endurance.

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These attitudes, these opinions, this widespread idea that you’re just not good enough or that you’re lazy or unintelligent…these things prevent you from being able to overcome the next challenge. These thoughts cloud your vision so your eyes are set not on a potential solution to your problem, but instead on attacking yourself. How can someone with this mindset survive the obstacles that will inevitably happen in university?

When one approaches failure with fear in their chest, they can be likened to a branch being shaken by strong winds. With every storm it endures, the branch bends and cracks, until it eventually breaks off. This is the branch’s breaking point.

When one approaches failure with courage in their heart, they can be likened to a worker’s hands being scratched by heavy blocks. With every block the worker lifts, the hands become wounded and then are given time to heal, until the hand forms callouses. This is endurance.

When you learn how to fail, you’re able to conquer bigger, tougher, scarier obstacles …and succeed. You’re able to appreciate yourself and your talents and can gauge your weaknesses without the cloud of self-doubt.

It took a long time for me to learn how to fail properly. Countless experiences with this scary “F-word” forced me to come to terms with it. I’ll be sharing these stories with you in order to help you understand the importance of learning how to fail.

Each story will have a motif, a trait that will help you build your tolerance to failure.

The first part will touch on PERSEVERANCE. Stay tuned!