Jennifer Lee | Student Success Series
This blog has been reviewed by Gingin Chien and Mihaela Zlatanovska, edited by Rémi Thériault, and formatted and published by Béa Schueller.
Jennifer, tell us a little bit about yourself
Hello everyone! Very nice to e-meet you! My name is Jennifer Lee, and I am entering my fourth and final year at Concordia University in Montreal, majoring in Fine Arts and minoring in Psychology. What a wild mix of disciplines, you say? I agree! I am passionate about art therapy and using art-making as a therapeutic process to better oneself and achieve one’s full potential.
Although I am only minoring in Psychology, I am extremely passionate about positive psychology, mental wellness, health, and creative arts therapies. I hope to pursue a Masters Degree in Art Therapy in the future and apply a positive psychology framework to help people discover their true selves, and the power of their minds. I look forward to sharing some background on creative arts therapies and positive psychology in future posts!
Currently I am working as a research assistant with my university, and volunteering in multiple positions that include mentoring, graphic design, marketing, research, visual arts, and of course, as a Student Ambassador with the Canadian Positive Psychology Association! An important aspect of my student life has been engaging in a number of extracurricular activities. I have learned more from these extracurricular experiences than I have from school itself, and I’m hoping to share with you how I manage to succeed in school — balancing extracurriculars and academics while making the most out of both!
Outside of my strenuous agenda of extracurriculars, volunteering, work, and school, I enjoy curating Spotify playlists (2000s throwback pop songs, anyone?), making art, watching Netflix, going to the gym, and taking naps as a form of self-care!
What do you think made you successful as a student? What strength, skill, strategy, mindset, or habit allowed you to get where you are today?
How do we define student success? High academic achievement, balancing academics and personal life, achieving a holistic sense of fulfilment, nurturing one’s mental health while doing your best in school, the presence of intrinsic or extrinsic rewards, or being prepared for success in our personal, academic, and work lives? While many students have different definitions of success (and that’s ok!), I believe for me, success means reaching one’s short term and long-term goals while achieving a balance between work, life, and play. Whereas success touches on many areas such as academic success, work success, mental wellness success, physical success, and so on, I believe any success is measured through the accomplishment and achievement of goals and ambitions.
For me, success means reaching one’s short term and long-term goals while achieving a balance between work, life, and play.
Regardless of what success means to any one individual, I believe a strong component of achieving success (and what has made me successful as a student) is having a strong sense of self-reliance, self-resilience, and internal locus of control in relation to being the best possible version of myself. Growing up, I was very reliant on others for my happiness and success: friends, family, teachers, etc. When I finally moved out for university at 18 years old, I was forced to rely on myself to navigate in a new city alone and to take care of myself. This not only taught me that I am my own best friend and will always be there for me, but it taught me the importance of having a strong internal locus of control — that success can only come from within.
A term you might have heard in your introductory psychology classes, an internal locus of control is “a psychological concept that refers to how strongly people believe they have control over the situations and experiences that affect their lives”¹. In relation to positive psychology, having a strong internal locus of control helps one to reach their full potential as an individual. In an academic setting, a student with an internal locus of control typically feels like their failure or success follows from hard work and effort in their studies, rather than from external forces such as luck, fate, circumstance, bias, or unfair teachers¹.
Having a strong internal locus of control helps one to reach their full potential as an individual.
Given that my self-reliance and self-resilience developed over time, there are some traits and habits that have helped me get where I am today. These include: high conscientiousness (anybody remembers the Big 5 personality traits — the “OCEAN” acronym?) and strong organizational skills. I describe certain habits that have helped me get where I am today further in this blog post. These have helped me develop organizational skills, a strong sense of self, resilience, and inner strength.
How would you invite other students to cultivate those qualities?
A strong sense of self-reliance and self-resilience takes time to build, and it’s important to take small steps in achieving an internal locus of control. Here are some ideas to cultivate a strong sense of self-reliance and self-resilience and to *manifest* and achieve that success:
- Daily mantras and affirmations: Daily mantras and affirmations are helpful in reinforcing positive ideas and thoughts into our mind. Repetition eventually leads to the adoption of the thoughts. Here are some phrases you might be interested in trying out: “I have everything I need to succeed”, “I am in control of my success”, “I have the power to succeed”, and “I believe in my power to succeed”. Alternatively, you can write these down on a post-it and stick it on your mirror, keep it as your lock screen or print it out as an inspiration quote to put on your wall.
- Reflection: as a fellow Student Ambassador brilliantly said in her Student Success blog², “the most crucial step [for] anyone wishing to learn how to cultivate self-resilience, and how to enjoy learning, is to reflect on themselves. They must understand who they are, how they work, what motivates (and demotivates) them, and what they want to accomplish in life” (Razzouk, 2020). I would add that to achieve success, the first step is to reflect on what “success” means to us, and in order to build self-reliance, self-resilience, and a strong internal locus of control, we must reflect on our strengths, weaknesses, skills, and abilities. Reflection can occur in many forms: journaling, art-making, discussion, or even late night thoughts before you go to bed. Some prompts to reflect upon might include: “what is my personal definition of success?”, “how do I measure success?”, “what are strengths that can help me succeed?”, “what are some weaknesses I should be aware of?”, and “what motivates me?”, for example.
- Setting SMART goals: If you’re sick of hearing of setting SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-Based) goals, just bear with me a bit longer. When we develop a strong internal locus of control, self-reliance, and self-resilience, we must take the next step to actually create an action plan on how we wish to achieve success and reach a certain goal. This is where SMART goal-setting comes into play.
4. Write it down(!): Writing out your goals and keeping track of your success allows you to celebrate your accomplishments and also motivates you for the future. This can take on many forms, including: writing things down in an agenda, a journal, a sketchbook, on post-it notes, a to-do list, in your bullet journal, whichever you prefer! Agendas are also useful for organizing your short-term and long-term goals. There is nothing more satisfying for me than checking off that box after I accomplished something!
A strong sense of self-reliance and self-resilience take time to build, and it’s important to take small steps in achieving an internal locus of control.
Any last words you’d like to share with fellow students?
Thank you all for reading my first blog post! You can reach out to me through email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on my LinkedIn anytime to discuss anything as I am always looking forward to meeting new friends. I also highly recommend you check out the Student Ambassador Program with the Canadian Positive Psychology Association at: https://www.cppa.ca/Student-Zone, definitely a valuable and enriching experience for any student passionate about and wishing to pursue positive psychology! Goodbye for now!
If you liked this blog or if it helped you in any way, please take a moment to like, share, or comment!