Motivation Nation

There are many different approaches to the last few weeks of classes. These are starting to come to light as the end of the year “Oh god that’s due when?” sets in. We have the sleep deprive-rs, the criers, the rip-up-tiny-pieces-of-paper-to-calm-down-ers. You’ll feel it in the air, and see it on the looks of desperation spreading through the faces of students across the nation. Then we have the early morning library table snaggers, the “I exercise to destress”-ers, the chocolate mouth stuffers and the procrastinating Netflix binge watchers.

It’s finals.

But I’m here to tell you, it’s all going to be okay.

You might think, “Easy for her to say, she must not understand.”

Trust me. I get it.

Everyone has their own way of dealing with stress, not all of these may be necessarily healthy for your body, but going cold-turkey on your cravings is only going to add to it. When our stress levels are high, our mind can take us to some pretty dark places. Feelings of nervousness, anxiousness, and self-doubt can skyrocket. This time, I would like to remind you of one simple thing:

“Do not fear mistakes. There are none.” – Miles Davis

Hogwash you say. Mistakes are everywhere. They are circled in red pen, they are X’d and crossed out with vigor and haste. Mistakes are pointed out, called upon and thrown into the light. Mistakes are every point I end up away from 100% on that test, or project, or paper. Mistakes are to be feared, they are the root of my fear. Mistakes will lead me to failure.

Let me give you a little backstory on our friend Miles.


Miles Davis was born on May 26, 1926, in Alton, Illinois. After a childhood dedicated to music, in 1944 Davis left Illinois for New York, where he would soon enroll at the Julliard School (known at the time as the Institute of Musical Art). Pretty big accomplishment. wouldn’t you say?

My favorite fact from the history of Miles Davis?

In 1945 he dropped out of Julliard to become a full time jazz musician. 

Ludicrous you say! How could he leave Julliard, such a prestigious school. Did he realize how many people would kill to be in his position? He had so much going for him. You may say this was one of the biggest mistakes he could have made.

In 1946 he made his first recording as a bandleader.

In 1949 he released a series of singles that would later be considered a significant contribution to modern jazz.

In the early 1950s, Davis became addicted to heroin.

He overcame his addiction in 1954.

Davis recorded several albums with his sextet during the 1950s, including Porgy and Bess and Kind of Blue, his final album of the decade, released in 1959. Now considered one of the best jazz albums ever recorded, Kind of Blue is credited as the largest-selling jazz album of all time, selling more than 2 million copies.

In 1975, Davis was once again drawn into drug abuse. He struggled to make music. He was still battling the demons that he had been winning against for twenty years.

In 1979, he met Cicely Tyson, an American actress, who helped him overcome his cocaine addiction. He and Tyson married in 1981.

Davis reinvented himself yet again in 1986 with the release of Tutu.

Honoring his body of work, in 1990, Miles Davis received a Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award. He has gone down in history as a vital part of the history of jazz music.

You may be thinking, how on earth does this relate to all of the pressure and stress and just general intense emotional time that is finals?

Miles Davis followed his heart, and he did something that probably shocked, angered and confused many people. He didn’t do what people thought he should, or had to. He battled illness and addiction, the people around him and his passion helped him overcome these things. Miles was faced with obstacles around every corner, and he still found ways to break through. He was extremely successful in life, he made a great impact in the world and he did it all without getting 100% on every exam.

Don’t get me wrong, working your butt off and doing incredible on your exams, is a great accomplishment (go you!) but as corny as this sounds: as long as you’ve done your best, that’s all you can do.

Success doesn’t have to mean earning a perfect score on your exam, or staying up all hours, skipping meals, making yourself anxious for no reason, sacrificing your mental health. Success during finals, and in life, comes from learning. If we are always perfect how will we ever learn? There is no growth to perfection. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with studying really hard and getting a great grade, but this isn’t all there is to life. Trust me, I have learned from experience that the best moments in life can come when we realize that we don’t have to be perfect at everything.

So try your best, work really hard and no matter what the numbers are at the end of the day, you’re going to be alright. Take care of yourself, get enough sleep, eat some good and some bad food. Listen to your body, your mind, and your heart. Do what feels right to you, because everyone has their own way of dealing with stress. There’s no right way, there’s only your way. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, embrace them.

Be as confident in yourself as Carl is in his abilities and you’ll be just fine.


Good luck (but you don’t really need it) and go make some mistakes,




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