Focus on What Can’t be Taken Away From You…

In High School, my IB Economics class was highly influential for me. It was the class which I performed best in, and I really enjoyed learning the concepts of the class. It was also the class in which I had the best relationship with my teacher. I loved his way of teaching and he thought of me as a great student, which had an effect on my academic confidence.

When it came to university prospects, my success in this class and my relationship with my teacher was crucial at the time. I still remember the day when my teacher called me in to his room to show me the reference letter he had written for me (something which was supposed to be confidential). He wrote a special letter for the University of Chicago in particular (whereas letters were supposed to be generic across universities). In the reference letter, he stated that I was going to win the Economics award and that he had rarely seen someone grasp Economics concepts as quickly as I had. That day, when I went to the cafeteria for lunch break, I was on top of the world. I still remember the feeling of joy that radiated through my head.

A few months later, I got the e-mail from University of Chicago that I had been rejected. In one simple message, that e-mail was able to completely take away the significance of that reference letter, and my performance in that class. That feeling of joy that I had when my teacher called me into his class was wiped out when I realized that the letter and my performance in that class was just a means to an end. And in this case, the end was not what I was hoping for.

Yesterday, I wrote an message to my teacher thanking him for taking the time out to write that letter and for his class in general. After reading his response I realized that me and him now have a friendship that e-mail can take away. I realized that the confidence I gained from my performance in that class will stick with me regardless of the rejection I faced. I realized that the method of rational thinking I developed through that class has aided me regardless of whether or not I was in University of Chicago.

A lot of situations in life are inevitably means to an end. But by attaining satisfaction (or the lack of it) from the aspects that depend on the end result, we too easily allow the significance of a great situation to be taken away from us.

I’m going to make a conscious effort to focus on the aspects of situations that are not dependent on any future outcome. I’m going to focus on what cannot be taken away from me. So far, I’ve identified these as cultivating great relationships and learning new things. If I’m able to get my satisfaction from these two things, that satisfaction cannot be wiped out as a result of an external outcome.

*NOTE: If you come across this post, it is not intended to come across as some type of preachy life-advice stuff. This is just me structuring thoughts I’ve been having for myself. The reason it’s written in this voice is because its the voice I find easiest to write in. The reason it’s public is because I found it holds me more accountable to internalize and act upon the stuff I ponder :)

However, if you do somehow come across the post and found it interesting, you can contact me at I love to meet new people and talk about interesting things. If you’re in Montreal, I would love to grab coffee.