Pariza Fazal | Student Success Series

Pariza Fazal, Research Assistant: Addictive Behaviours Lab, University of Calgary

This blog has been reviewed by Nicholas Murray and Jennifer Lee, edited by Rémi Thériault, and formatted and published by Nicholas Murray.

Pariza, tell us a little about yourself!

Bonjour — I’m Pariza, and I am a recent psychology graduate from the University of Calgary! During the last year of my degree, I spent some time writing a thesis on how the pandemic has affected communication within same-sex friendships. I am currently working as a research assistant in the Addictive Behaviours Lab at the University of Calgary. Earlier this year, I was working for the Canada Suicide Prevention Services, where I was briefly exposed to the field of positive psychology. I strive to promote approaches that focus on individual and societal well-being. My job consisted of reminding individuals to indulge in activities that made life worth living, as a meaningful way of coping. It was then that it dawned upon me, that positive psychology is not a just theory but a lifestyle!

What do you think made you successful as a student?

I have faced many trials and tribulations throughout my student life, including the loss of a loved one and a long-lasting mental health crisis. However, my education always remained to be one of my top priorities; I have always and still continue to love learning. Growing up, I invested a lot of my energy in trying to be the best possible student, although sometimes this led to a neglect of my self-care. I learned early on in my educational journey that striking a balance between my personal life and my academic life was the only way to be successful in both realms. Prioritizing one over the other would not allow me to thrive. I use a quote by B.K.S Iyengar as a constant reminder, “Health is a state of complete harmony of the body, mind and spirit”. To flourish academically, it is vital to look after your mental well-being as well as your physical health. Along with devoting time to your education, it is essential to promote your health by spending time with loved ones, indulging in activities you are passionate about, meditating, eating healthy, and engaging in physical activity. As the saying goes, “Everything in moderation, including moderation!”

Photo credit: Aziz Acharki

Another quality that I believe to be important in my learning trajectory is resilience. It requires a lot of courage and strength to be able to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and keep moving forward after every fall. One of my greatest strengths during this journey has been my persistence and perseverance through the storms of life. When we as humans choose to take our failures in our stride and move forward, we learn two things. Firstly, that our failures keep us humble. Not everything in life will be easy or simple; the victories that we work harder for will be the ones that we cherish more. It’s as simple as the old proverb, “The fruit of patience is sweeter”. Secondly, there is an unrevealed lesson in our downfalls. If something does not go the way you intended it to, there must be a moral to take away from the scenario. It may also be an indication that something else awaits us. There will always be obstacles in our path, but if we are able to adjust and adapt to our environments, success will follow suit.

What strength, skill, strategy, mindset, or habit allowed you to get where you are today?

One of the motivations that have brought me this far in life, was my passion for learning. I am highly curious and enjoy trying new things. Whenever I found anything potentially intriguing, I’d find myself researching it and spending an extra amount of time learning about the topic. I always want to give my best to everything I do. This curiosity and exploration helped me learn a lot about myself and my interests. Even if there were times when I did not quite enjoy the activity I had gotten myself into, I would still try to engage in it wholeheartedly. This is how I discovered my passion for research — through curiosity, exploration, and whole-hearted engagement! When you give your best to every situation, whether it is challenging or whether you dislike it, you uncover a lot of hidden benefits. You may add a new skill to your repertoire that might come in handy in the future. Additionally, it helps make you more adaptable, and teaches you to be persistent and resilient even in uncomfortable or difficult situations.

How would you invite other students to cultivate those qualities?

Here are some simple ways to implement these qualities in your daily life!

  1. Ask questions & try new things. Asking questions is a simple and efficacious way to discover your interests and learn about yourself. Once you find a fascination, pursue it and you may end up discovering a passion!
  2. Don’t be disheartened if you fail. Although this might be one of the cheesiest things that you’ve heard — it still holds true! If you are passionate about something and it doesn’t work out, keep trying! Your failures will teach you more than your victories.
  3. Everything in moderation. Just like a recipe, your life needs to have the perfect balance of ingredients in order to be flavourful and satisfying. Success is to balance your emotional, mental, physical, professional, and academic life.
Photo credit: Brett Jordan

Any last words you’d like to share with fellow students?

While striving for success, always remember to take care of yourself. Your body is a temple, and if you don’t take care of it, your successes will mean nothing. Pay attention to your mind and body because your needs and self-care should always be your first priority! Always stay true to yourself. Follow your heart and nurture your dreams and passions. These will bring you internal happiness!

I am delighted to have joined the Canadian Positive Psychology Association! If you have any questions or comments, feel free to reach out to me at parizafazal@gmail.com.

If you haven’t already, please consider getting your Canadian Positive Psychology Association membership to join our wonderful community and check out our Student Zone! Plus, if you liked this blog or if it has helped you in any way, please take a moment to like, share, and comment!

We are the Student Ambassador Program of the Canadian Positive Psychology Association (CPPA). Find our website here: https://www.cppa.ca/Student-Zone