Having barely survived Fall Term in one piece, I was looking forward to receiving a clean slate: Winter Term. I assumed that I would have learned from my mistakes, and that I could glide smoothly through with my newfound experience and knowledge. My plan was perfect, until the onslaught of warnings about the notoriously difficult Winter Term. Students and faculty alike spoke of the numerous obstacles that Winter Term brought with it, and in turn I was thoroughly petrified.
In the midst of all the preparation and support that Andover was trying to offer me, I interpreted the sheer volume of it as a guarantee that Winter Term would be difficult. Without any context of what Winter Term was, the term was presented as the most difficult portion of the year in all aspects: academic, social, and weather related. Although preparation for the worst is important, instead of assuming the fact that virtually everyone will have a terrible Winter Term, we should start with a more optimistic mindset. We must change the culture of Winter Term.
The first detrimental effect I noticed within myself because of my negative mindset towards Winter Term was a fear of overextending myself or overworking myself. I tended to become shy with my actions instead of taking risks and striving ahead boldly. I even noticed my study habits had become more extraneous because I developed the idea that my work and everything else had to be harder solely because it was now Winter Term. Because I prepared myself to weather a storm rather than to grow, I began to stagnate this term. I wish I had entered with a more open and optimistic mindset towards this term, rather than allowing myself to already define this term as a terrible time of year.
In this way, we guarantee that our experience will be a difficult one. If we simply shift to a more positive mindset, we will have a chance to have a wonderful term. I am not denying that Winter Term can be difficult because of a variety of very real factors, but it is because of this negativity that we should make an extra effort to maintain a positive outlook.
Offering support to students who have trouble in Winter Term is imperative, but reminding students of the good aspects of Winter Term can help bring the negative culture of Winter Term back to a more positive light. There is so much to look forwards to in Winter Term, such as the holiday season, Head of School Day, and the midterm long weekend. Snow may be cold and slippery, but snowfall itself is undeniably beautiful as well. We have become too focused on persevering and fighting through the horrors of Winter Term. Instead, we must approach this term like any other term: full of possibilities, marked with both the good and the bad.
Anna Lang is a new Lower from Andover, Mass.