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Every person has the power to expand their mind and form new daily habits. Starting at a young age, I desired to be intelligent and did everything possible to achieve to the best of my abilities in school. My grades and cognition proved how intrigued I was to learn and want to grow my mind. However, starting in highschool my dedication towards learning had failed drastically, as family issues at home caused setbacks in my studies. After reading Carol S. Dweck’s article, “Brainology”, I can now fully fathom the way my brain has worked and developed throughout my scholastic journey. Dr. Dweck expresses the difference between two mindsets that students have, “these different beliefs, or mindsets, create psychological worlds: one in which students are afraid of challenges and devastated by setbacks, and one in which students relish challenges and are resilient in the face of setbacks.” After reading Brainology, I have accepted the fact that my brain had adapted from forming into a “fixed mindset,” to now a “growth mindset.” I went from being threatened by my mistakes and challenges, to then facing and conquering them. Developing a growth mindset has opened my eyes in all parts of my life, making me want to succeed to my highest potential, and to never run away from challenges again.
Every second of everyday, our brains are constantly growing. Each person establishes habits in life and can change these habits by training their mind. As I developed a “fixed mindset,” every class that I took during the ninth grade, seemed to be more and more impossible for me to succeed in. That is because, I allowed myself to get so far behind in school due to setbacks, that I was lost and felt unwilling to try. As time went on, my life goals of going to college and having a successful life seemed to vanish before my eyes and that made me feel depressed. Angela Lee Duckworth expresses how students with a “fixed mindset” can adjust their brains into developing a “growth mindset.” Students can do this with what Dr. Duckworths calls “grit.” “Grit is the passion and perseverance for very long-term goals. Grit is having stamina. Grit is sticking with your future, day in, day out, not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years, and working really hard to make that future a reality.” (“Duckworth”) Having “grit” has rewired my mind into thinking that I can accomplish any goal that I strive towards, as long as I put in the effort and hard work. Creating new habits in school, guides your brain towards adapting a “growth mindset,” and that is what we call “neuroplasticity.” Training your mind will show that you can do anything as long as you have composed the right mindset for yourself.
During the beginning of my sophomore year of high school, my life outside of school became my version of hell. I had always achieved high test scores and grades in all of my classes before I entered the tenth grade. I loved to “dream big” and started setting life goals for myself at a young age. Therefore, I was used to being called “smart” and I was flattered by the rewarding remarks that I had always received; because I really enjoyed to learn. However, when my dad turned to drug and alcohol abuse I felt my whole world turnover. By that I mean, I changed as a person and did not care about the things that I loved the most anymore. Having my dad being my role model and best friend, I began to feel worthless and abandoned as things at home worsened. I was distracted from my school work and never would have imagined that I would have gotten trapped into having a “fixed mindset.” Having this happen, I dug myself into a deep hole of misery and lost who I really was. As I became more depressed, school was not a priority for me anymore, I stopped hanging out with my friends, I didn’t want to study or do my homework, and I stopped showing up to my classes. Being this, I ended up being at risk of not graduating high school because I had four failing classes.
Growing up, I would have never thought that me, “the smart girl in class” would have been one of the kids that would not be able to throw their cap in the air, walk away from high school, and into the college of my dreams. I was ashamed in myself for not being the girl that I knew that I really was… I now can grasp the fact that I had allowed setbacks in my life to distract me from my motivation to learn and made me run away from any challenges, and fully accepting that I had gone from having a “growth mindset” into having a “fixed mindset”. Once I realized that I was not truly the person that I have formed myself into, I began to pick myself up and form myself into the person that strived for success again. I went from throwing my pencil on the floor and quitting all of the time in school to “confronting challenges, profiting from mistakes, and persevering in the face of setbacks become ways of getting smarter.” I spent two of my summers retaking the four classes that I failed at a local charter school. Spending days and nights studying and working on homework while all of my friends were having the times of their lives was a tough lesson that showed me what I could’ve had if I hadn’t allowed myself to get too far behind in school. I ended up replacing four failing grades on my transcript with four A’s during those two difficult summers but I learned how significant it is to never give up on yourself and to never stop your mind from growing. You have to grind through the struggles in life in order to get passed them and better yourself as a whole.
Whenever I come across a challenge now at Santa Barbara City College, I remember the thick heavy feeling in my chest when I would receive F’s on my quizzes and tests. Happily, I can now recognize that I am in control of my own thought process and it is up to me whether I want to succeed or not. Comparing myself from having a “fixed mindset’ to a “growth mindset” has presented to me what a great learner that I can be when I put in the effort. If Malcolm X had met me in high school and saw how hard that I worked to get to where I am today, he would be impressed. This is because, I realize that Malcolm X went through some dark storms in life in order to pick himself up and achieve. Similar to me, Malcolm X would have been proud that I chosen to push and challenge myself to perform well in school, as opposed to running away from my weaknesses. Looking back, I wish that I could have changed every second that I spent being upset and not doing a damn thing about my poor efforts in school. Now, learning is such a comfort to me, as I have formed into the person that I was always meant to be.
When I think back to where I was three years ago, all I think about is how I could’ve simply changed my horrible “fixed” habits in school by looking at things with a “growth mindset.” I have fully accepted my past setbacks into being a life learned lesson. Carol S. Dweck has taught me to not only feel like I want to grow my mind but to have the courage to want to learn and I couldn’t be more grateful for that. With a growth mindset, I believe that I can accomplish anything in life through hard work and dedication. My dad has always told me that “I can do anything that I put my mind towards,” and even though he was the reason my world fell apart for two years, I still run those words throughout my head whenever I felt like something is “too hard.” Every person is in charge of their own mind but it is up to each person to want develop a growth mindset that will lead them towards success. Life should be lived to the fullest and you can’t do that unless you develop a growth mindset and challenge yourself to learn to grow.
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