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I had a new experience recently. I was competing in a fierce archery tournament and I wasn’t doing as well as I had hoped. Ordinarily this would have led to a lot of frustration and anger at myself. I would start to obsess over my shooting, my equipment and everything else. But for some reason, this time none of that happened. I wasn’t reaching my goals and I wasn’t winning but I didn’t mind that much.
By nature I’m fairly ambitious, especially when it comes to sporting events. Typically I would set my sights very high and be disappointed when I didn’t reach them. The problem that would then occur is when I realised I wasn’t doing as well as I wanted, I would become hyper-focused on my performance and I would start to do even worse as I let the frustration get to me. Indeed, this tournament seemed to be no different, especially as the previous year I had won a medal and so I was hoping for a repeat. In the end though, I didn’t win a medal but I still came away happy at how things turned out.
It was difficult to take a step back and accept the truth: Sometimes, it’s just not my fault that I’m not winning. I was shooting really well, in fact I don’t think I’ve ever been more consistent in any tournament. Even when I knew that I wasn’t winning or in medal contention, I still maintained a calm mind and stayed relaxed, instead of fixating on my score. It was a great feeling as it reminded me of how relaxing and meditative archery can be, even during intense tournaments. I could compare myself to other people and worry that they were doing better than me, or I could compare myself to myself and think about just how far I’ve come.
When I first started archery I could barely shoot and would miss the target more often than I actually hit it. Yet here I was, two years later, consistently hitting the bullseye from 50 metres away. The more I felt about that and the less I thought about my actual score, the better I felt and the better I shot. All too often in the past I have found myself investing too much of myself into my score and the official tournament results. This time none of that happened and I enjoyed the actual archery more than I have ever done before.
My major takeaway from this tournament was to keep things in perspective. I won’t stop pushing myself to achieve as much as I can, but I will remember the context and not fixate only on the final result. I will always set high goals, in the knowledge that I may well not be able to reach them, but I can always be happy that I put in the effort to try and achieved a great deal along the way. Although I didn’t get a medal this time around, I am still a phenomenally better archer than I was when I first started and quite frankly that’s all that really matters. I will keep shooting and I will keep getting better. I may not win a medal again or stand on a podium but I am still undeniably one of the best archers around and that is nothing to be sniffed at. I try to hold true to this ethos in all things I do, ultimately it’s about the journey not the end.
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