“A new job happened to me, and it turns out to be great–through no fault of my own.” This sounds ridiculous, right? But let’s turn the tables a bit: “A bunch of student debt happened to me, and it’s crushing–through no fault of my own.”
It doesn’t sound as absurd when you put it in the negative context, because it’s easier to passive when it comes to negative things like underemployment, debt, obesity, you name it. Often, we are active participants in the negative things or events we consider ourselves victims too–just as we are active in making moves in our own life. Note how I say often instead of always. It’s up to you to be honest with yourself and differentiate the self-inflicted woes and the ones that are beyond our control.
But back to the point. Let’s take a look at how you can start viewing things a little more positively. I understand that college tuition can be ungodly expensive and the debt it incurs can be crushing–I have a nice chunk of student loans myself. But instead of viewing it as punishment, look back at what those student loans got you. Here’s my list:
- Opportunities to meet fantastic people that helped shape me and form my perspectives
- Extracurricular activities at every turn that–you guessed it–helped shape me and form my leadership skills
- Internships that led me to inspiring people, discovering professions, and that helped reinforce my interest in entrepreneurship
- A place to live and study–I was able to live on my own for a year during college, and I learned how to be self-sufficient, manage my social and academic worlds and save money where I could
- Oh, yeah. An education! I certainly appreciate everything I’ve learned in college, but I do consider the other opportunities equally important parts of the investment
Did you just get an education? Did you just take classes and scrape by? What kind of personal benefits have you gained from your studies?
What I’m really getting at is that bad things don’t just happen. You didn’t sit idly by while the government sucked money out of your meager bank account–hopefully you gained priceless experience and education. Don’t get in the rut of thinking all that debt is for naught. That’s a vicious mindset to be in that can easily suck the energy and happiness out of your life.
This victim mentality hurts your productivity and places strain on your relationships. If you find yourself always complaining, or always unhappy, you may be stuck in this mindset. Kick yourself into gear by writing a list of things you are grateful for, seeking to positively compliment a friend and ask about their lives rather than vent about your own frustrations, or take some time each night before bed to congratulate yourself on your successes and admit your mistakes for the day. I even find it helpful to analyze what opportunities I have to succeed tomorrow, and what could possibly go wrong (and how to prevent it!)
Start valuing yourself and your actions. Own up to your mistakes, and learn from them! If something goes wrong, don’t immediately start to whine and complain that bad things always happen to you. It’s a frame of mind, my friend, and nothing more.