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When Motivation Fails

 Some days college can be great, while other times it can feel like a never-ending cycle of exams and papers. And it’s on those down days that I sometimes find my motivation falling. I find myself feeling burnt-out and questioning the importance of midterms in the grand scheme of things. I find myself confused about my future career – what’s the point of all this work? Will work be better or worse than school? Ultimately, I find myself in desperate need of some inspiration. So to prepare for these days, I always keep some inspirational materials at my fingertips.

     One of these materials is my “empowerment” Spotify playlist. Complete with many songs about girl power and overcoming obstacles, this playlist gives me that boost whenever I’m feeling down. In particular, when I’m faced with disappointment, whether due to an exam or a rejected internship application, taking a few moments to listen to some empowering tunes helps to restore my confidence. It also puts things in perspective – just because one thing didn’t work out, it doesn’t mean that all of my hard work has gone to waste. There’ll be many more opportunities for success in the future.

    When my falling motivation is due to school particularly, I try to remind myself of all of the exciting things that the future has in store for me. For example, upon graduation, I hope to work in child and adolescent psychology in some capacity. To raise my motivation levels, I’ll occasionally look up all of the exciting new research in the field – research that I’ll get to be a part of if I work hard in school now. This not only reminds me of the importance of putting in my full effort, but also renews my excitement in my chosen career path.

    My favorite inspirational tool, though, is my journal of inspirational quotes that I’ve started collecting over the past year. These quotes come from different places – my favorite books and movies, articles about people I admire, advice family members have given me. I look to this book to give me a spark of excitement whenever I’m lacking it. Given the nature of its source material, it also reminds me to hold on to all of the things that I love, even when I feel like I’m drowning in work or when I’m facing pressure to conform to pre-conceived and often false notions of “college norms.” Some of my favorite quotes that I’ve saved include:


“Be every bit of yourself.”


“Vulnerability makes you more true to yourself and others. It allows you to get closer to people and ‘dig deep’ and analyze what’s truly happening inside of you.”


“Find your life’s purpose and let it drive you in everything you do.”


These quotes, along with many others, remind me to find my motivation when it’s lacking, while also encouraging me to stay true to myself and to acknowledge my vulnerabilities and weaknesses. And that’s just what I need on those down days.



Aishu Sritharan

Dartmouth '20

Aishu Sritharan is a member of the Dartmouth College class of 2020.
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