So, I’ve been thinking a lot about mindset lately. A lot. I’ve been contemplating how mindset affects every aspect, of every action, of every day of your life. It sounds cliché. But the reason it does is because it’s true. Your mindset will leak into every aspect of your personality, of what people think of you- all of it. Once you master your mindset, you will master every aspect of your life. I genuinely believe that. Battles with your own mindset are the hardest battles you will ever fight.
Okay, so I know I haven’t been writing about writing very much lately. I haven’t been very focused on my writing. And in all aspects of my life, it feels, I was letting my mindset hold me back.
First, in Speech and Debate. Ah, debate. We have a love hate relationship, debate and I. Debate makes me smile and laugh; frown and cry. I won’t lie-lately, I’ve been wondering how willing I am to continue in debate. The decision felt urgent. Vital to make right away. For a few weeks, I’ve been waffling between what felt were my only two choices. To stay, or not to stay. To leave, or not to leave.
As I write this, I sit in front of the final round at the Blue Key speech and debate tournament at the University of Florida. Sit in front spectating; obviously. As I sit here, I’m hit with a flurry of thoughts. They’re the same thoughts that hit me every single time I compete. Every out round I spectate, every round I compete in, every time I sit watching my fellow competitors. And maybe a part of the issue is that I don’t see them as competitors, or peers, at all. It’s hard to remember they’re teenagers, in high school; just like me. It’s hard to remember they’re only people. All I see are real, actual congress senators and representatives. Individuals who are talented, and smart, and holistically better than me. Do you see my issue? I turn them into these big, intimidating, scary people in my head- when really, how different am I than them? Before I’ve even competed, I’ve failed. I’ve failed, because of my mindset. I haven’t gotten in the room and I’ve lost because I believe everyone else in that round is so much better than me, and I don’t give myself a chance to succeed.
It sounds ridiculous, right? Most of the time, mindsets do. It’s the same reason that a mindset is what it is- it’s in your own head. All of these kids I’m watching might be thinking the same thing. For all I know, in that final round that they earned their way into, they could believe themselves inadequate. They could be so nervous they feel as though they’re going to throw up. They could have the same worries, doubts, and fears that plagued me. I realized, while watching these incredibly talented people, that it wasn’t meant to discourage me. Watching them be so good wasn’t meant to make me think that I couldn’t be as good as them, or admire them as these godly figures. They’re teenagers, just like me, and watching them, I realized what the point was. I realized what I was supposed to think while watching them, and I realized how much better that mindset would ultimately be. Watching them, I realized how impressive their achievements were. Not because they were talented, or put the work in, or were smart. That’s not what made their achievements impressive. It’s that they had to work past their mindsets, and that’s more difficult than any other aspect of the round. They very well could have been nervous. They could have felt just as inadequate as I did watching them, regardless of how far they had gotten- and despite that- they were there, competing, and they were amazing.
What I had to take away from that round was that they didn’t become that good overnight. They put in practice, and preparation, and more. I had to realize that what they were doing was impressive because they were there despite their fears and worries and self doubt. In spite of their mindset. What was impressive was that they had battled whatever mindset had previously held them back- and won. Maybe, they still had a negative mindset that they would have to battle in every round they step foot into. Mindsets don’t just change because you want them too. Sometimes, no matter what you do, they remain; and you’ll have to fight it every time and overcome that. That, I would argue, is even more impressive. Not being able to completely overcome whatever mindset they felt was holding them back, and still battling it every time they went to a round is even more commendable. Maybe not all of them in that round had that issue, and they were just confident without trying, were one hundred percent sure of themselves without trying. I’m sure they could have been; not everyone has a negative mindset that holds them back. The ones that impressed me, and made me feel as though I really could get better, are the ones that were there despite everything that told them they couldn’t or shouldn’t be. I don’t know who thought that in that round, and that’s the crazy thing. You’ll never know people’s mindsets. It’s a battle that’s so much more vital than the round, and everyone watching won’t even know about it.
With writing, I was letting my mindset hold me back. I didn’t make the time for writing and considered everything else infinitely more important. I didn’t focus on my blog very much. Lately, I’ve been wondering who would really want to read my words. Who would really want to look at my blog and read the things I have to say. It’s intimidating, to pour my heart and soul into something for people to judge. With my personal writing, I’m daunted with the prospect of writing a full-length novel for the first time. It’s scary, to have such a big goal. What if it isn’t good? What if my writing is bad? What if my story is terrible? Before I’ve even sat down to start typing, I’ve lost. Whether or not I’m writing a blog post, or working on a novel, I’ve lost because I’ve already told myself I can’t do it. I have to remember that my blog posts aren’t for anyone else to read, even though there will be people reading it. My novel isn’t for the enjoyment of others. Before anything else, my blog is for me. My novel is for me. No matter who sees it, it’s mine. It’s for me to enjoy writing.
I had a conversation that really put mindset in perspective for me:
While sitting for dinner, I was talking with my brother. Initially, my head was in a million different places. I was thinking of everything I had to do, and get done, and this, and that. My brother began talking excitedly of the week ahead. I was confused, and I began really being there while in the conversation. I hadn’t thought the week had anything particularly special for him, but then, I hadn’t really talked to him much either. “Why are you so excited for the week?” I asked, and his eyes lit up. He had a smile of child like innocence, but he struck me as wise beyond his years. “Well, tomorrow is an even day, and I like my classes a lot. Wednesday is Gamer’s Guild. Thursday is Chess Club.” He paused, thinking, “and Friday is… well it’s Friday!” I didn’t understand what he was so excited for. He had just described a normal week. “Soo…” I started, “What’s so special about all of that? That’s like a normal week for you.”
“Well,” he continued, animatedly, “I like to think about what’s going to be good about the week. What cool things are going to happen so I can think about it and be excited about it.” Although four years younger, my brother had taught be something, and with a simple conversation, my whole perspective shifted. I had remembered doing that in middle school, and younger. The same thing he had described to me, I would do. I would think about the week ahead so I could be excited for the good things that would come. It felt like I was dredging up some distant memory, even though it was only four, if not less, years ago. I began to wonder when I stopped. When I stopped dreaming, and believing in the wonder of every, singular day.
I’m participating in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) this November for the first time, and so I’m going to be trying to post more frequently, about how my novel is going and how NaNoWriMo is. I’m going to be working my very hardest to work past any mindset I may have that may hold me back, as we all must do. Start believing in the magic of every day. Thanks for listening to my rant about the importance of mindset, have an amazing, magical week!