A Letter to My Students

“Do better and be better, until you are the best version of yourself” sounds great, Professor Lori, but what does it specifically mean in my day-to-day life? That is a great question, I would love to tell you. (E. Myers 2021)

Being the best version of yourself takes grit, motivation, and determination. It requires effort, perseverance, curiosity, and a strong work ethic. But that sounds exhausting Professor Lori! It does indeed, but being your best self also involves self-care, knowing when to slow down and attend to your own personal needs. It is the balance of all these things that leads you to your best self.

First and foremost, becoming your best self involves a growth mindset, a belief that your abilities “can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment.” (Dweck, 2015) People with a growth mindset believe that intelligence, creativity, and skills can be cultivated with practice and time, and they are less likely to be discouraged by failure because they reframe mistakes and challenges as learning opportunities. People with a growth mindset are generally happier than those without one because happiness is about the journey rather than the destination (A. Myers, 2018).

With a growth mindset as your foundation, your next step towards you best self is effort. Lots of effort. The I-am-not-going-to-give-up kind of effort that fuels you to seek out resources and new ways of doing things to get it right. As your professor, I am one of those resources and I provide information and guidance in my class presentations, MS Teams tools, assignment templates and feedback. I also make myself available to answer your questions. That is why I give all my students my cell number – so that you can text me with questions. And if I am not able to help you through text or email, then we will get on the phone and talk about it.

You have other resources as well: your fellow students, the Academic Success Center and a very important resource at your disposal, Google. Seriously, Google is one of the greatest resources for the curious mind. You just type in your question and see what pops up on the results page. Click what looks like it can help and then dig and explore from there.

Being your best self also requires resilience. When you fall short of a goal, it doesn’t mean that you have failed. It just means you need to make the effort to try again – and this time incorporate the lessons you learned from the previous attempt. Effort is about trying until you get it right. That being said, you also need to set a pace that is conducive to your physical and mental health.

Stressful all-nighters and countless cans of Red Bull are not conducive to your health and should not play a role in being your best self. Your body and mind are the most important resources you have for being your best self. So physical and mental health comes first. As stated, being your best self requires resilience and that can only be achieved if you have the physical and mental capability to keep going. So, take care of yourself by eating well, getting 7+ hours of sleep every night and finding time to rest and recharge. And don’t drink alcohol or do drugs because that sh*t is just plain bad for you.

In summary, being your best self is about having a growth mindset, putting in lots of effort, being resourceful and taking care of your physical and mental well-being. You can do this. I believe in you.

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