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Sunday, July 13, 2014

5 (+1) Unorthodox Ways to Thrive in Your Studies (#3 will surprise you)

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5 (+1) Unorthodox Ways to Thrive in Your Studies

by Nurul Aqilah Aqiludeen [Writing Contest 2014 ★ Winner ★]

There are many study methods and memorizing skills on the internet that can help you in your studies. Mind maps, finding quiet places to study, eat well and healthy etcera etcera. Having the right attitude and mind set however, can help you achieve your goals faster whilst at the same time, letting you enjoy the process. Here is a list of ways to really thrive in your studies and being the best in your academic life.

1. Find humour in failure

Find humour in failure
Find humour in failure / PicCredit
“The happy people are failures because they are on such good terms with themselves they don’t give a damn” – Agatha Christie
Every senior that I had met in high school said the same things to me: “Add math is the toughest subject ever!” When I heard the statements, I admit, I was scared. Is the subject really is a ‘killer’? Later, when the teacher started to teach the subject, I find the mathematical concepts difficult to compute. I grew frustrated with the homework and ends up copying my friends’ answers. Day by day, the frustration grew and before I knew it, my first test on the subject ended. I remembered feeling devastated when I got the result. It was the worst result of all the subjects that I had took. 16 out of 100 percent. Terrible, absolutely terrible. I remembered feeling like I am a failure. I cried in the toilet and in the bus to get home. I knew my mom would be disappointed with me. I am the eldest of four, how am I going to show great example for my brothers and sister?

When I reached home, with eyes still wet from crying, I told my mom about my result and showed the test paper to her. I felt stupid. Worthless. To my surprise, my mom started laughing. She told me that I did a good job. Bewildered and confused, I looked up to her and told her that I have failed her as her daughter. I had failed the test! Then, she told me that when she is at my age, she only got 8 out of 100 for the same subject. It is good because I have double her marks! The laugh that comes burbling through happened spontaneously and we laughed and laughed and I felt my spirit lifted. Because of that, I no longer feel pressured about the subject. Slowly, but surely I began understanding the subjects without the fear and worry and in the end, I got an A+ for the subject in my SPM! I have double, triple, quadruple my moms’ marks and it felt good.

The moral is that to treat your failure as a stepping stone for you to get motivated, to have the will to push through. Laugh at your own failure, cry if you must. But never, ever, feels like it is the end of the world.

2. Fake it till you make it

Fake it till you make it
Fake it till you make it / PicCredit
“You must be the person you have never had the courage to be. Gradually, you will discover that you are that person, but until you can see this clearly, you must pretend and invent” – Paulo Coelho
Students always claimed that they do not have the ‘mood’ to study, the ‘feeling’ to finish their assignments. I know, I felt like it too. But, I do not roll on the bed or scrolled through my facebook page until the so-called-mood comes. Instead, I switched off my phone, sit on the chair, takes on the notes and study. Even if I do not feel like it. I fake having interest in studying. I read the text books with fake interest. I jot down notes with fake interest. I solved the questions with fake interest. I served the internet for my assignments with fake interest. I asked questions about the subjects to my friends with fake interest. Surprisingly, eventhough you started by faking the feeling eventually, with time you will feel interested with whatever you are doing. Studies had shown that people who faked to have a confidence to speak in front of a large audience eventually have the confidence without faking it. As you faked studying, feigning interest, you began to be aware of what you read, write and see. Eventually, you will remember what you wrote, and have a better idea about your assignments. You do not need to wait for the ‘mood’ or ‘feeling’ to come to you, create it on your own!

3. Find an enemy (or a few)

Find an enemy (or a few)
Find an enemy (or a few) / PicCredit
“The man of knowledge must be able not only to love his enemies but also to hate his friends” – Friedrich Nietzsche
In this dogs-eating-dogs world, one has to be ready to face competition. With the experience, you will grow stronger and stronger and ready to face bigger challenge. The problem is, you need to find someone worthy to be called your competitor, an enemy. You do not need to have the intense hatred to the person (nor harbour any hatred at all!), you just have to find someone better than you. Yes, I said it. Find someone better than you.. academically.

I studied in an all-girls high school, where the competition is strong and catfight is a real deal. People in your class will get very nosy about your marks and moan if you get a mark higher than them, yet smirked if you get lower. Because of the environment and the natural ego to prove that ‘hey, I’m better than you’, I worked hard and pushed myself out of my limit. I studied like I need it as much as I need to breathe. The reason is simple, when the exam result came, I can prove to my friends (and enemies) that I am better than them. Such simple feeling, but I put super extra effort to it. I envy the people who get marks higher than me and I swore to work even harder, to study even smarter. That is why you have to compare yourself to people who are better than you, so you have the will to achieve something greater than what you have now.

When I am in university, people are more private about their marks and CGPA. So I stalked. I jot down the matrix no of students that have the highest marks in class, ask the lecturer who wrote a better essays and create a list of those people. Normally my lecturer would post everyone marks (with omitted names) and their matrix no on the student portal. Because I already have the names and matrix no, I can easily compare their marks with mine. If I get lower, I will have to work better but if I get higher marks than them, I grinned and treat myself to something that I like. It is not necessary for the people to know that you stalked their marks, what is important is that you knew. You knew that you are better than them in certain subjects and you savour the feeling, the joy, the ego-booster.

You will be surprised that the list of people who are better than you do not decline; instead, you will find a lot more people better than you. The fight to make you better will never end so when you graduated, you know that you have pushed everything that you got to get that scroll of excellence. Because in the end, winning is not everything – it is the only thing.

4. Do the painful things first

Do the painful things first
Do the painful things first / PicCredit
“Pain is temporary. Quitting lasts forever” – Lance Armstrong
Regardless of you finishing your assignments, your thesis or even your exam questions: do the hardest things first. The rationale behind the statement is that when you had finished doing the difficult tasks, you will find yourself feel lighter hence, made you ready to complete other easy tasks. Scientists have discovered that to create an enjoyable experience is to stack the painful parts of the experience early in the process. An example is that when you are at the doctor’s office and it is better to wait 30 minutes at the waiting room than to wait 15 minutes at the waiting room and another 15 minutes at the exam room. The wait feels much longer at the latter situation. In addition, if you realized, doctors often tells the bad news first to their patients and finish with the good news. The reason? So the patients will remember the experience more positively and continue having hope in their predicament.

Hence, when you are working for your assignments or studying, start with the task that you dislike the most. Once that is finished, your experience will improve and by the time you finish with the task that you liked most, you will end up feeling satisfied. You will then remember the tasks as fun and it is likely that you would not hesitate to do again.

5. Be selfish

Be selfish
Be selfish / PicCredit
“ If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have plan for you? Not much” – Jim Rohn
There are times that we bowed to the pressure to please people at least once in our lives. We did something that we do not want for someone we did not want to disappoint. I know a lot of my friends that are studying to be a doctor, do so because it is expected of them. We all have experience the subtle demands, requests and favours from people that we do not want to anger or disappoint. We are worried about their opinion on us, worried that we may hurt the other person’s feelings. But, there are times in life that you must be selfish.

To be able to thrive, you have to say ‘no’. To a lot of things. You need to have your own time. Time is limited and will go on no matter what you did. Time can be stopped out of the blue. Time cannot be replaced with money. If you keep on giving away your time to do the things that others want you to, when will you have the time to develop yourself? To chase after your dream?

By saying ‘no’, you do not cave to the peer pressure or sacrifice your own happiness for the opinions of others. It should also not be the end of a friendship. Good friends will understand why you had said no. Time is too precious to be going out watching bad movies and ‘lepak-ing’ at the mamak’s anyway. Your life is not dictated by someone else, nor that is by anyone’s judgments and demands. You own your life. Choose what you did with your time wisely and spent it with people that deserve it.

(+1). Love what you do, or leave

Love what you do, or leave
Love what you do, or leave / PicCredit
Do what you love to do and give it your very best. Whether it is business or baseball, or the theater, or any field. If you do not love what you are doing and you cannot give it your best, get out of it. Life is too short. You’ll be an old man before you know it” – Al Lopez
No matter what study techniques that you used, if you do not love the subjects, you will not like the outcomes. Love what you do, learn to love what you do or leave. Do not waste your time and money investing in things that you do not like. Remember, you only live once.

Nurul Aqilah Aqiludeen (or more commonly known by her nickname, Que Levine) is a final year undergraduate student in Biotechnology with a dean list on every semester. She likes to play footsie under the table, laugh for no reason and sprawl on any surfaces. Villains that are clever and dressed in sharp suits make her happy. She is also a strong believer that the world would be better if people embrace love as they would embrace money.
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  1. I always had a problem studying, mostly because I'm lazy. Thanks for the blog. Hopefully, this will open my eyes.

  2. Thank you.. I really love this

  3. The article is simply amusing yet full of true facts.


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