A Proactive Mindset in 2023


Max Tapper

It might be hard to believe that it is already 2023. Over the course of the past year, we have experienced a great deal of change in our society. Social distancing and masks have seemingly vanished from our list of priorities. Nowadays, people anticipate, yet also dread, their returns to office buildings and classrooms. The COVID-19 Pandemic instilled boundaries within our society that limited how much we could accomplish. Increased restrictions, cases, and deaths frightened all of us. Additionally, virtual learning would lead some students to lose focus on their education. This school year has given our students and staff members a reality check. No longer are the days of ZOOM and open-notes online tests. Students are now in an environment in which they must apply themselves and plan for their future. Teachers realize the significance of one’s education, and therefore do all that they can in order to enforce material. However, a return to routine also invites a sense of stress. The non-restricted world might overwhelm some people, as large parties and meetings have not occurred in some time. However, I encourage you not to be fearful, as this new year, you can adopt a new mindset to your environment. I am Max Tapper, and I am here to give you, my fellow students, some tips on how to adopt a proactive, low-stress mindset in 2023.


1. Ask for help

Before my freshman year, I was aware that high school would be an adjustment. Biology introduced new, complex information that I had not been accustomed to in my middle school years. I would soon learn that in order to succeed in these harder classes, I would have to study more on my own time, specifically from the slideshows provided. Ultimately, I would do quite well in Biology, as I would always make the effort to find time to prepare for important assignments. However, sophomore year would challenge me even further with Chemistry. Personally, I was not very fond of Chemistry, but I knew that I still needed to apply myself like I had for Biology. Some Chemistry concepts were especially difficult for me, such as energy unit conversions. However, even though it took a few failed quizzes, I would come to realize the importance of the teacher’s perspective in a student’s education. I would start attending extra help more often, and I would make sure that I asked my teacher the right questions in order to comprehend the material. I would notice that my teacher seemed happy that I attended extra help, therefore making me want to go back. As a junior, I now attend extra help in the morning for Algebra 2 and Physics whenever I do not understand the material. I appreciate my teachers’ assistance, and I can tell that they appreciate my presence and dedication. Therefore, whenever you do not understand something that is taught in your class, I suggest asking your teacher if you can come to extra help. You might not realize it right away, but extra help can prove very beneficial to your comprehension of the material. You will not only learn to study smarter, but you will also learn to establish connections with those who want to guide you.


2. Make a New Friend
As a young child, it was difficult for me to make many friends. I cared greatly about the perspective of others, but I also found myself fixating on seemingly unrelated characteristics. For example, whenever I noticed that someone’s hair smelled bad, I would tell them this as respectfully as I could. Upon saying this, I could tell that the person that I was talking to was somewhat offended, and I would become upset as this was not my intent. However, I did not let my mistakes hinder my progress in communicating with others. I would often find myself scolded for unintentionally upsetting others around me, therefore making me feel quite guilty. However, I would learn from these experiences in order to improve my communication skills. As I got older, I would learn not to focus so much on appearances when talking to other people. For example, whenever I noticed a person on the street with a strange nose, I would just not bring it up. I was now aware that when interacting with these kinds of people, these traits were usually irrelevant to discussion. I was also now aware that by telling someone that they had a strange nose, I could come off as rude. Therefore, I would learn to keep my personal observations to myself in order to establish connections. Today, I have obtained the necessary skills in order to make friends with classmates. If you are feeling lost in today’s world, I suggest that you start a conversation with someone in your community around your age. When talking to this person, try to give them a compliment on their attire. Compliments like these might seem generic, but people often appreciate hearing these types of things. Also, by giving compliments, you will be able to develop positive perspectives on those around you. Having positive perspectives on others around you will help you greatly in establishing connections and potential friendships.


3. Volunteer in Your Community
Over the course of my high school career, I have come to greatly value the assistance of those less fortunate than me. The summer before my sophomore year would see me volunteering at Delicious Orchards in order to gain service hours for graduation. At Delicious Orchards, I bagged produce that would be placed onto trucks that operated for the Barn for the Poorest of the Poor. I would often try to find the cleanest produce provided in order to enhance the experience for those receiving it. For example, whenever I come across a tomato that was rotten or excessively soft, I would discard it and find a better one. I would also make sure that I always brung gloves, especially when I worked with sticky or expired products. Ultimately, whenever I came, I would find that the people on the back dock appeared glad to see me. Seeing the smiles on other people’s faces filled me with a sense of accomplishment. I was now aware that my efforts were truly making a difference in the lives of other people. Therefore, I would become motivated to return to volunteering at Delicious Orchards in the summer after my sophomore year. I would continue to put in my best effort towards my service, as I knew that others around me were aware of my capabilities. I would also try not only to put produce into creates, but also help those on the back dock. For example, whenever I saw someone struggling to lift a heavy crate, I would offer to help carry the crate over to the truck. By doing this, I would develop my compassion for others as well as my sense of teamwork. Today, I often tell myself that if it were not for me volunteering, I would not be the efficient, helpful individual that I am today. Therefore, if you ever have down time or on your days off, I recommend you find time to volunteer at a nearby organization. Through volunteering, you will not only learn the value of hard work, but will also feel pride for helping your community. A positive sense of pride can help greatly with one’s mental health, therefore making one want to continue to make a difference.


4. Connect With Your Family
I have always been raised to make the daily effort to interact with my family members. Ever since smartphones came into play, my mother would always tell my elder brother Zachary and I to call our grandparents. As a child, hearing my grandparents’ voices on the other end of the phone would fill me with a sense of wonder and connection. Even then, the capabilities of technology proved as a source of amazement to me. Today, I still continue to call my grandparents regularly. However, my perspective on doing so has changed. I am now aware that as my grandparents get older, their capabilities become limited. No longer are the days where my grandmother or my grandfather would walk without assistive devices. I feel guilty whenever I am unable to go to my grandparents’ house, as I know that they do not get as many visitors as they used to. Therefore, I have come to value my phone calls with my grandparents on a moral level. I often place myself in the shoes of my grandmother and grandfather. If I were living on my own, I would want to receive a call from my loved ones every once in a while. I would especially like to talk to others if I were having a bad day or feeling unwell. Therefore, I choose to call my grandparents as often as I possibly can, especially when I consider what they are going through. I feel that by calling my grandparents regularly, I have greatly improved my ability to connect with my overall family. For example, my father works from home, but he is often very focused on business meetings and spreadsheets. I can tell that my father holds himself to a high standard, which is one of the reasons that I admire him. Every day, I always remember to ask my father how work went. My father responds to this in a positive manner, but he also reminds me that it can be overwhelming at times. This matches how I sometimes feel about my workload at school. My father has told me that sometimes, you just have to grind it out. However, my father also tells me that it is critical to not burn yourself out, as not everything is monumental. I have applied this advice to my education, especially whenever I sometimes score poorly on a quiz or test. I would recommend that starting this year, you should try to ask your parents about how work is going. You do not have to go into great detail with them, as you really just need to ask how their day went. Your parents will likely appreciate your interest and want to have a conversation with you about their jobs. You might find that the approach that your parents have to their careers might match how you approach school. Also, remember to give your grandparents a call at least a few times a week. By doing these things, you will develop connections that will help you better understand the people that shape you.


5. Take an Active Break
It happens to everyone. The incoming deadline. The big speech. The mountain of homework. Depending on what kind of person you are, you might feel the pressure to get it all done, and so you should. However, it is very easy to get trapped in anxiety. You might feel that you need to do everything in one sitting, as you do not want to fall behind. However, I have learned that marathoning to get it all done inevitably leads you to burn out. Instead of overanalyzing equations and cramming for tests, you should try to prioritize what needs to get done. For example, if you have a History project due Friday but a Chemistry test on Monday, you should spend Saturday and Sunday studying for Chemistry. After Monday, you can focus more on completing the History project by Friday. However, you do not have to make the History project your only focus for the week. It is critical that you remember to make time for other homework that your teachers provide, especially for Math and English. Even though it might not feel like it right away, by prioritizing assignments, you have the ability to get all of your work done in an efficient manner. You also just sometimes need to shut it off. If you are ever overwhelmed about an Algebra assignment, complete it as best as you can, and then allow yourself to take a twenty minute walk. I personally find walking very relaxing, especially when I am outdoors. I feel that walking, albeit a daily activity for many, clears my mind and helps me focus on what needs to be done. You should also try to find one day a week where you can get out and do something that you enjoy doing. Most Fridays after school, I go to Centrastate to swim for an hour in the lap pool. Personally, I find swimming to be a great way to relieve the stress that school can generate. I realize that not everyone is an avid swimmer or walker. However, I would recommend exercising to calm down rather than surfing Instagram for five hours. Staying active not only keeps you in shape, but it also improves your mental health and concentration. Whether it is lifting weights or yoga, taking an active break can do wonders for you in 2023.