Is optimism dead? Three NAIT students weigh in

by | Mar 2, 2023 | Arts & Life

Fernanda Rocha, “Optimism: A path to success”

I believe that optimism is not blind faith, but the ability to have hope for tomorrow. Optimism allows you to consider all paths to success, favourable or not. 

 On the other hand, pessimism creates barriers that end up forcing the way of negativity; someone focuses on all the ways they can and usually fail, creating a lack of confidence in themselves or situations. 

Even in the most challenging moments, it is essential to take something positive out of it. 

I’m an international student here at NAIT, but I had to follow a few steps for that to happen. A few years ago, my wife and I started planning to be able to study abroad, and we finally applied for visas in 2019. If you are an international student, you know how agonizing the wait for a visa is. 

It was five months before we got a resounding “no.” At that time, our world fell apart; it felt like the Canadian government was throwing our dream in the trash. 

It was 48 hours of sadness and  deep feelings of pessimism. We didn’t understand why this was happening; we had already made plans and invested in our dreams. But soon we changed our way of thinking. An optimistic feeling invaded our hearts, and we knew we could reverse that situation. 

We set out to find out what we had done wrong and what we needed to do to succeed in the following application. We realized that we had to be optimistic to achieve our dream. Giving chances for negative thoughts to arise was not in our plan.

I hired a specialized company in visas and immigration, and we aligned on what needed to be re-done. We recalculated deadlines and financial issues, changed college intake and finally reapplied.  

In September 2021, we received our long-awaited positive response. Our visas were approved! I landed in Edmonton in December 2021, and since then, I have been faced with the need to be optimistic day after day. And honestly? It’s the best thing I can do for myself.

Omon Anyanwu, “Outlook on optimism”

One fact I have lived out all my life is this – optimism helps us overcome obstacles and achieve great things. I remember one period of my life when I was seriously sick, and the doctors advised me to take a break from my studies and focus on improving. I refused and told my dad, “I gained admission with this set of students, and I would graduate with this same set of students.” I wasn’t going tolet any ill health define me or my future. My family thought I was crazy, but looking back,  that was one of the best decisions I ever made. 

The truth is that an optimistic mind is one of the best tools to get through difficult times. As students, it is a must-have to overcome the challenges we may face in our daily lives. 

Having an optimistic mind is like having a light shine from within you. It illuminates your path when you’re surrounded by negativity. It doesn’t matter what the challenges are: having that difficult conversation with students or instructors, bad grades, stress or anxiety. Optimism makes you deaf to anything that doesn’t resonate with your goals but keeps you resilient in the face of every adversity.

Now, having an optimistic mind isn’t like magic–you can’t wave a wand and make everything automatically pleasant.Optimism isn’t about living in denial or refusing to acknowledge your reality. Instead, optimists choose to call the shots. They refuse to be deterred by the magnitude of their challenges, but instead stay motivated and persistent. 

Imagine being willing to break out of your comfort zone and take more risks, get more creative or think outside the box. Don’t you think life through this lens would be wonderful? 

Don’t be afraid to take on a positive outlook on school or life. Stop holding back, and just take that bold leap already – join those fun clubs you are interested in or talk to that classmate you’ve been thinking about. Go online and get some positive mantras or make some up yourself. Recite these everyday until they become part of you. Ultimately, you may realize, just as I did  that even though school or life can be challenging, optimism helps us overcome obstacles and achieve great things.

Zach Kubusch, “We give ourselves too much credit”

“You can do anything you put your mind to.” 

Is that really true? Can you actually do anything you think you can? The simple answer is no, you can’t. You might think this answer is inherently pessimistic but it depends on how you view the statement.

How many people really achieve their dreams, like having their dream job or having tons of money,  in life? I wanted to be an NHL player and after a while I realized how unrealistic that was. So I settled to chase after the next best thing: a sports broadcaster. 

I’m not saying that people don’t ever achieve their goals, but some aim too far. 

Obviously as kids your parents don’t want to squash your dreams of being an astronaut or a scientist, but after a while you realize that’s out of reach. Once you start to understand that you aren’t going to become what you originally hoped to be as a kid, you have two choices: work harder and put more effort in to make your dream come true, or settle. 

The overwhelming majority of people choose the second option. Maybe it takes too much effort or requires too much time. School, work, relationships and self-discovery doesn’t leave enough time for us to work towards the goal.

This is where the problem of being overly optimistic comes in. If you’re not going to put in the work to become what you want, you can’t sit and preach that all dreams come true. Dreams don’t work unless you do.

Lots of people in today’s generation —as Karen as it sounds— think that they can do anything. That only means something if you can match the effort needed to reach the goal. I believe you can develop this skill but it’s extremely difficult to do.

Overall, being an optimist only goes so far. Pretend all you want, but you’re not making all your dreams come true if you can’t do the work.

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