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Focus on the Positive

By Mackenzy St-Pierre, Grade 12
I recently discovered something about myself, something that is not easy for me to admit to. You see, I’ve been really stressed and a bit sad this year. My Grade 12 year – a year that I’ve been looking forward to for so many years – has been a tough year for me, certainly the toughest of my six years here at Stanstead.
I have encountered many obstacles and a lot of failures. At a certain point this year, my lowest point, I found myself focusing on all my downfalls. I found myself dwelling on all the things that have brought me down, all my weaknesses, the things I didn’t like about myself and all the downfalls that had overcome me this year. Ultimately this left me feeling sad, frustrated, disappointed and, sadly, angry. For all of you who know me well enough, you know that this really isn’t me. This is not how I like to feel. I truly am a genuinely happy person. I love to smile, laugh, make others smile and succeed.

We all want to succeed. But how do we define success? As students, most of us seem to define success and happiness based on awards, medals, trophies, high averages, good test results and titles. When all these things don’t go as planned, we feel sad and stressed.

But we shouldn’t.

Instead, we should base our value and happiness on how much hard work we have put in towards that average and test score. If you have worked your hardest on studying for a test and it didn’t go as well as you had hoped, then your average shouldn’t bring you down. Instead, you should feel proud knowing you gave it your all and learning from your mistakes so you can do better next time.

We also all need to focus on how much effort we have put into a sport and how much fun we have had spending time with our teammates and great coaches, having fun doing something that is good for our health and mind, instead of worrying who will receive the award at the end of the season and then being sad and upset if we weren’t recognized. In the end, those awards are just a part of the athletic program, they don’t define you. You define whether or not you worked hard.

Ultimately, bad test results, bad averages, bad games, bad days, bad weeks, bad months, they don’t define who we are. The good things in our lives are what we all need to focus on. If we only focus on the things in our lives that are going wrong, then we will find ourselves feeling the same way I felt before. Sad. Frustrated. Disappointed. And mostly angry.

In the hard times that I have been through this year, I have found that focusing on the good things in life – and I am very fortunate that I have many – has truly brought me happiness. When the going gets tough, I think of all the things that make me happy here at this school. Like all those moments with Abby Murray over the past 12 years of our friendship, all the times when she has made me laugh with her cringey comments and sayings. And all the times that Alex Smith has said something so inappropriate but so very funny during practice that the whole team wants to bust a gut from laughing so hard.

These are the good times and friends that we all have here at Stanstead. I have been so very fortunate to have had the most amazing teachers here who have brought me happiness. The most amazing teacher here I was fortunate enough to have as my advisor; Miss Hessian always helps me see the light at the end of the tunnel and always helps me choose the right path. But most importantly, she sometimes brings us doughnuts on Tuesday mornings. This truly makes me happy!

Some of my favourite moments here at Stanstead have had to do with basketball. Two names come to my mind: Mrs. Wolfe and Mr. Van Dyke. Going to tournaments with my teammates, singing the songs from high school musical (yes, all three of them) and seeing Mr. Van Dyke and Mrs. Wolfe’s faces when our singing is completely off key. Those are the little things that make me happy.

In short, being happy comes from appreciating the greatness that surrounds you: friends, family and all the little things.

I will leave you with a quote from someone I respect very much: my mom. When I was at my saddest and having a really bad day, she looked at me and said: “What has happened in the past cannot be changed. You can’t dwell on it. The world will not stop turning because of one bad test result, one bad decision. Tomorrow will come and it will be a new day, a blank slate, and you will have the choice to either focus on the good or the bad. If you choose to focus on all the small inconveniences or all the bad test grades or bad games, you spend your entire life being sad. And that’s not the way you want to live your life, is it? No, it is not :)”