Why Are We Afraid To Be Wrong?

Kathryn Schulz: On Being Wrong

I recently watched a video of a TED Talk by Kathryn Schulz (it’s posted above). Most of what she said resonated with me because there are times in my life when I didn’t want to admit that I was wrong. A recent example of this is when I told my mom that I was going to a friend’s birthday dinner and where it was, and she told me I was taking the longer way to get there. I then decided to take an alternate route to get there and she said I was also going to take the train in the longer direction. I didn’t want to acknowledge that she was right after I looked at the map and navigated my way to the restaurant.

As mentioned in the video and illustrated with my anecdote, we live in a culture where failure isn’t tolerated.  Individuals who make mistakes are seen as failures or they are humiliated, embarrassed, or teased. That got me to thinking about my time at U of T thus far. Why on earth did I decide to go to university? Originally, believe it or not, the main reason why I wanted to attend university was to learn more about subjects I didn’t know about and to expand my mind. I do admit that it was also a way to delay adulthood when it came to working full-time. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t experienced adulthood in different ways during the time I’ve spent here so far (e.g. paying bills, finding a summer job, sending and responding to correspondence in a formal manner). Yes, I wanted more information on how to prepare myself for the working world, but it wasn’t at the forefront of my mind.  I had these thoughts in my mind when I was a high school student desperate to leave the highly structured environment. Once I was admitted to U of T, all of this changed. I still remember my first month here. I was still in a state of disbelief and shock that I was admitted to a top university and was now in a completely different world. However, the honeymoon ended and reality came crashing down on me as my first midterm deadlines approached.

When participation during class became an important part of my final grades, which was after I completed my first year, I started to become more insecure. I am a very talkative person and yet I’m not one of those people who likes to impress someone by pretending to know everything about a subject; I just want to share my point of view. In some of my classes, I was told by professors that my opinion was the wrong answer or not what they were looking for (sometimes it’s true and sometimes it’s not as I’m pursuing a double major in English and Sociology). I didn’t let my professors’ attitudes get me down but recently it has affected the amount of confidence I have in my responses. I still participate in class discussion (as participation is a large chunk of my final grade in all of my classes) but I noticed that I have been more reserved in recent years.

I also noticed fellow classmates who constantly spoke in a way to affirm their opinions and manipulate their arguments in such a way that the professor would give them favour (if they weren’t asking an open ended question). I’m not saying that the students in my classes weren’t intelligent; I just thought that sometimes their answers were inauthentic and every word that comes out of their mouth is a way to prevent them from feeling like they were wrong. Most people don’t speak up when it comes to close ended questions out of fear that they’d look stupid. I have begun to develop a line of thinking that I have to be right about everything and even if I have done my research at all, don’t speak.  This way of thinking has lead to me believe that I have to impress everyone all the time. I had to have all of the right extra-curricular activities (even though I am interested in them) and earning job credentials. I kept thinking about the future and the past but not the present. I became stressed all the time and it became a larger problem and I became unhappy and started losing interest in school altogether. I am getting help when it comes to planning for school but I still felt this way for most of last semester. As I am in my third year, I battle these thoughts as graduation approaches. Now I realize that I shouldn’t be afraid to make mistakes and that I’m human. I am slowly learning how to stop putting more pressure on myself because let’s face it, the world’s harshest critic is yourself.

It’s only through making mistakes that we are able to learn. Life is a process, not a fixed path, and we need to be more open about this and creating a culture that allows us to show our flaws and not allow egotism to flourish. As Kathryn Schulz mentioned, if we continue to allow ourselves to ignore others when we are wrong, it can lead to larger problems in the future if our world and business leaders have this mindset. As Thomas A. Edison once said in an interview, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” This doesn’t mean that you don’t try your hardest or to be a low achiever, just keep pick yourself off of the ground and keep going but don’t let other people’s comments eat you alive.

 “I err therefore I am human.” – St. Augustine


Now if only I can learn to continue to practice my advice on a daily basis…



Give Me a Break: A List of Activities to do In Between Classes

On the days when I have two or more classes, I look forward to the breaks that I have between classes. It’s an opportunity for me to relax, update my to-do list, or if I’ve procrastinated completing an assignment, finish it off and edit it one more time. I’ve had breaks lasting from anywhere between one hour to three hours.  Over the past three years, I’ve learned to use this time wisely as it allows me to do some things I’m unable to do at other times in the day.

Here’s a list of some productive (and not so productive) ways of killing time between classes:

1.      Organize your schedule

This usually doesn’t take a lot of time once you’ve started the task. While meeting your deadlines and attending events is another task in itself, at least you’re prepared for the weeks and months ahead. (It’s the thought that counts, right?)

2.      Watch your favourite TV shows

It’s a great way to kill time if you only have an hour-long break. Although, it’s really hard not to scream or yell at my laptop screen when I’m catching up with Pretty Little Liars (Seriously, the show is filled with plot twists).

 3.      Read a chapter/section of an assigned reading

This is a good activity to complete during your break if it’s right before the class that the reading is for. It’s also an opportunity to review the material (or complete the reading if you haven’t started!).

4.      Meet with friends

This year, it’s hard to meet up with my friends as we’re not in the same classes like last year. It’s even more difficult to meet up outside of classes because of our busy schedules.  Last semester, I started to arrange lunch dates with friends during my breaks. This gives me an opportunity to catch up with friends in person while I’m still on campus, as I’m a commuter.

5.      Take a nap

If I’m going to spend most of my nights working on assignments, I’m going to have to rest some time. I’m one of those people that NEEDS their sleep. (I think I’m one of few students at U of T who will admit this…)


How do you spend your time during your breaks?

Hollywood Comes North: The 2012 Toronto International Film Festival

Fall conjures up many images that aren’t unique to Toronto; the leaves on the trees changing from green to gold, kids scrambling to catch the bus to school and cooler days that remind us to get ready to brace the cold Canadian winter. However, there’s one event that happens during the fall that only happens  in Toronto. The event that I’m talking about is the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). TIFF is one of the largest film festivals in the world and now in its 37th year. The Festival is an opportunity for large production companies to create buzz and a potential audience for their films. It’s also a chance for independent filmmakers to make their international debut. This year over 300 films will be screened during this year’s festival at eleven public venues across downtown Toronto.

During this time of year, the downtown core appears to be livelier with screaming fans, paparazzi around every corner and Hollywood stars being escorted by security guards everywhere they go. I’ve never really been familiar with downtown Toronto as I don’t live there and didn’t venture to this area by myself unless I had a doctor’s or dentist’s appointment until adolescence. Volunteering for TIFF was a way to get to know the downtown core and get a chance to meet new people and check out films I probably wouldn’t have seen on my own time.

The first experience I have ever had with the festival (before I became a volunteer) was during my first week of classes as a first-year student at U of T. My last lecture of the week was ENG140Y1 (If you have a chance to take this course, do it. I highly recommend it.) and we were notified by the professor that we might get kicked out of class early. This was because the organizers needed time to spruce up the theatre (possibly to rid the smell of students?) before the screenings to take place that night at the theatre. The Isabel Bader Theatre is one of the places on campus that serves as one of the venues for this year’s Festival.

This year is my second year as a volunteer and while I haven’t run into anyone famous yet (I’ve only seen them from afar) or weird stories to tell, I’ve met some interesting people. I also plan to see a film on Monday to kick off my first week of classes. If you have time this week to see a film before the festival’s over, go! There’s something for everyone. For people under 25 years of age, single tickets are only $15.04 for regular screenings and $25 for premium screenings!*

The 2012 Toronto International Film Festival runs from September 6th to the 16th. For more information about this year’s festival, visit their website.

*HST not included and tickets must be bought with valid ID.