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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Kenyon chapter.
Being happy and hopeful doesn’t mean that things will go wrong. Let’s learn to live in the moment a little, okay?

For most of us humans, we’d like to believe that there is some force greater than mankind that holds our fate in its hands. Religion aside, I’d like to propose that we as people, as social individuals, as energy forces—whatever you’d like to label us as—are free to be hopeful and happy without the looming threat of things going awry.

There aren’t Good Luck Gods choosing when to give you a little spark of prosperity (that we know of at this very moment!) so don’t look for the negative side to things.

With finals looming around the corner for many students, you may be susceptible to a negative self-tape beginning to play in your mind. It’s imperative to shut it down. You are more than allowed to enjoy the beginning of the holiday season. In fact, you’ve earned it. You’ve earned every piece of pumpkin pie your heart desires, and just because you are looking forward to having a little bit of a break doesn’t mean that something will go wrong.

For example, if you’re beyond thrilled to meet your little cousin but have a small voice in the back of your brain saying “Well, what if you get sick and you aren’t able to see her? You haven’t been sick lately, so it would be just your luck to catch a cold right before Thanksgiving break!” you need to close the metaphorical drawer of negative thoughts and correct them right on the spot. While illness is a genuine and concerning issue, thinking that it is just your luck to contract something isn’t going to help you in the slightest.

Rather than focusing on the fallacy that all things rest upon your self-created Luck-O-Meter, it’s time to shift your mindset.

As a person who doesn’t subscribe to the more mystical theories behind manifestation, I do find it odd that many of the same people in my life who preach the powers of putting your mind towards the positive still worry that they’re going to jinx themselves…and those two ideas seem to contradict themselves, do they not? I’m no theologian or spiritual guru, but I’m inclined to believe that the two seem incongruent with each other.

While I’m still someone who feels a gut impulse to rap my knuckles against the nearest wooden surface on the off-chance that it will stop me from bringing bad luck and shame upon my bloodline, I’m unlearning the socially constructed belief that we can’t be prosperous if we want something. It’s hogwash.

There are a handful of these seemingly harmless reactions that I have been working on eradicating, including “knocking on wood.” However, I find myself trying not to think of positive things that might happen in the future.

But now, let me just say that I am sick of the whole “If you have no expectations, you can’t be disappointed” mindset. You are allowed to have expectations and you are allowed to be disappointed when those expectations aren’t met. That means you have emotions and are human; though sometimes I think this is more a curse than a blessing, feeling your emotions will pay off in the long run. You’ll see your emotional growth and feel like you just climbed Mt. Everest.

Of course, expectations can act as a double-edged sword. When concocted with the idea that nothing could possibly go wrong, we’re setting ourselves up for an emotional downfall. The key to mastering this is remembering that you’re not going to fail because of your hope; other external forces (whether through your environment, other persons, etc.) might spring up and impact your desired outcome.

I’ve written it before in my article onquelling toxic perfectionismand I’ll write it again, we have to shut our Dragon of fear—whether it embodies itself in perfectionism, an anxious self-tape of negativity, or even avoidance—down. But you can’t slay the Dragon if it’s breathing fire and trying to singe off your eyebrows. Maybe I’m taking the Dragon metaphor too far…

Allow yourself to be excited, happy, and future-forward, and remember that your positive feelings aren’t going to come back and bite you in the behind…because what would they even bite you for? Nothing! Now, isn’t that a freeing idea?

Be gentle and kind to yourself.
Carlin Steere is a writer and poet at Kenyon College. When she's not on campus, she can be found on the beaches of Connecticut with a notebook in hand.