Maintaining Morale in “Impossible” Courses


Another semester has commenced, and another struggle has begun. The memories of tears and triumphs of the last semester still fresh in our minds, we take up pens and papers once more and plunge into the fray .

As any good commander would know, morale is often the key to victory. Throughout history, tenacious, unwavering spirits have repeatedly carried the day despite grave odds. However, with our gazes glued tightly to that golden 4.0 GPA, nowdays we and our fellow students often ignore the importance of maintaining our own morale. For example, we often walk into a class expecting nothing but the worst because someone just told us that the course was “impossible”. That grim expectation would often have already stained our perception and have put big dent in our morale before the professor even spoke the first word.

Expecting not able to achieving a good mark is the first step towards make it a reality. Such self-defeating prophesy can only weakens our resolve and corrode our determination. After all, how much effort would we be willing to expend for an cause already deemed lost? Later, when we receive the lackluster mark as the result of our poor efforts, wouldn’t it only reinforce our opinion that the course is impossible? Even worse, what little effort we put into the course would also be stained by the poison of apathy and despair –  why bother trying so hard if all we can expect is an mediocre mark anyways? Such expectations batters away at our morale and subsequently affect everything we do, from the effort we spend to how focused we are while studying.  Broken morale have routed armies in the past , so it’s important that we keep up our morale by changing our expectations about “impossible tasks”.

Hannibal, a legendary Carthage general faced a truly difficult, if not impossible, task: he was commanded to take the fight to the Romans in their own backyard – by crossing the Alps. At that time, no one dared to bringing an army across that freezing, treacherous mountain range – such attempt was considered suicidal. If Hannibal was confined by such assumptions, the history would have indeed been a very different story. Instead, the stubborn general challenged the expectation of everyone else and after months of hardship became to first one to surmount that obstacle. His army flanked the Romans where it was thought impossible and swept through much of the northern Italy. Hannibal respected the constraints of reality without letting the appearance shake his confidence or break his morale and exemplified for us that very difficult tasks aren’t necessarily impossible ones.

Assumption and expectation can change the course of the history, so maybe we should be more careful in what we assume and expect.

Perhaps a “impossible” course is more likely to be “much effort required, but totally doable”; how would we know unless we’ve gave it our best shot?

At the end of the day, the horror stories floating around are the stories of others, and we ultimately makes our own paths.


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