Why One Bad Day Does Not Define You

Many times, when referring to things, people will call them a "snapshot". I remember the first time someone said it to me, it was my high school counselor who was trying to tell us that standardized tests are only a snapshot of how you acted on that one particular day at that particular moment. It's like a photo, one moment frozen in time that doesn't represent anything except for that one second that the camera shutter clicked. It didn't capture all of the seconds surrounding it, leading up to it, following it. It's merely one moment.

At the time, I thought that it was cliche and tacky. Maybe it is, just a little. However, I think that now I understand it a bit more.


I think that the first moment that I really thought about how true the idea of a "snapshot" was not when I was taking a standardized test like my high school counselors intended, but I noted it when I was playing around on those 16 Personalities tests (or Myers-Briggs tests).

If you don't know what the Myers-Briggs test is, it's essentially a personality test. It originated from Carl Gustav Jung's theory of psychological types in order to categorize your personality. The results will present an analysis of your personality type to show you how you tend to approach various situations, giving you a better understanding of the kind of person that you are.

Over the past year, every time that I've taken the 16 Personalities test, I have gotten a different result. I have gotten ISFP, INFJ, and ISFJ. Yes, they're all pretty similar, but what I'm trying to say is that sometimes when I take the test, I might be feeling a bit different than I had been another day. Maybe I was in a good mood. Maybe I was thinking about the recent moments, fresh in my mind, that had a different narrative than the last time that I took the test. Maybe I just changed over time. 

The thing is, that test gave me a different result because I'm constantly different. Although I'm me, there are still little things about me that might change the outcome of what I do. There are countless factors that shape how I am at one specific moment and honestly, it's pretty unpredictable.

I'm constantly different. There are countless factors that shape how I am at one specific moment and they're pretty unpredictable. 

Another moment of how those factors shape one specific outcome has been through my experiences playing the cello in orchestra. I used to get so caught up in seating assignments which were based on skill and musical talent. We would always come in as a section and play for the conductor and then he/she would rank us in terms of the strongest player to the weakest player, placing the strongest in the front of the section and the weakest in the back. I never wanted to be in the back because I feared that it meant that I wasn't worth as much as the principal player.

see similar: you're more than your position. here's why.

However, I now understand that it isn't just about the ranking, since it was all done in one day, one moment: during seating tests. In those seating tests sometimes I would feel so nervous that my whole body would shake, I would tense up, and I would no longer play those songs that I had been practicing for weeks. On other days, it was a breeze, with almost no nerves. I could never predict how that moment that they were judging me would be. 

The thing is that sometimes we're just having better days than others. Sometimes we get nervous and mess up. Sometimes we're just tired. Sometimes we're just less motivated. We always have ups and downs.

We always have ups and downs. 

And yes, as cheesy as it is, I do see it. It's a snapshot. At that specific day, at that moment, I felt nervous and I may have messed up, getting me a lower seat. However, on another day, maybe I would have felt confident and played better in the seating tests. It's all about that specific moment.

It's also important to remember that life is full of countless snapshots. Every second is another snapshot, another moment in your life that might be completely different than the one before it. Every second, we're changing. We're growing from our mistakes, we're finding our strengths, getting past our weaknesses, learning from others.

You will have bad days. But you will also have good days. Because that's just how life works. However, it's important to remember that those bad days do not define you. It's a gross generalization of your life.

Letting bad days define you is a gross generalization of your life. 

Imagine if I based my entire understanding of you just based on your name. While it is a true aspect of yourself, it provides so little information about the kind of person that you are that it is impossible for me to get a complete understanding. If I was to assume that I knew everything about you just based off of a tiny fact like your name, everything that I believed would be solely assumptions.

It's okay to have bad days. They are a part of growth and yes, while they can help to shape who you are, they do not define you alone. There are countless other moments that make up you. There are the good moments, like when you got into your dream university. And yes, there are bad ones, like when you failed your first midterm.

Bad days do not define you alone. 

However, just because you had that bad moment, doesn't mean that you can't put it behind you. You can work hard to pass your final or stop by for office hours to try and better understand the content that you missed. You can move on from that bad day by focusing on what's next. 

And I encourage you to do that. 


Why One Bad Day Does Not Define You

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