It’s funny how even in college, no matter how hard we try to say it doesn’t matter, the words and thoughts of others can still have an impact on the way we see ourselves. By funny, I mean it’s actually kind of sick.
The other day, I learned that there are a number of people on this campus who dislike me. And it really bothered me.
We all, of course, have people who don’t like us. We also all have people who we’re not the biggest fans of ourselves. Sometimes it has to do with religious or political beliefs. Sometimes it’s the way we speak or act. Sometimes, there’s no rhyme or reason—we just simply don’t get along.
In this case, I’m disliked for something quite unique. They don’t hate me because of how I talk to them, the way I cut my hair or any of the other reasons the movie, “10 Things I Hate About You,” so poetically accounts for.
Instead, it is believed that I do things out of “extrinsic motivation” as opposed to “intrinsic motivation.” That’s the reason I’m disliked.
What is the difference, you may ask? It’s really quite simple. Extrinsic motivation kicks into gear when you have to complete a task you’re not thrilled about in order to reach a higher goal. It’s the, “if I go to the library on a Saturday night, I’ll be one step closer to acing my test on Monday.” Spending the night at the library isn’t ideal, but you do so in order to make the reward of an “A” possible. Intrinsic motivation, on the other hand, comes from within. It’s something you’re passionate about, and thus no reward is necessary—the prize exists within the action. You throw a frisbee around in Central Mall because it’s enjoyable; not because you’re trying to become a professional Ultimate player.
After contemplating the distinctions between the two, I began to laugh at my initially distraught attitude. I also came to three conclusions.
Number one: don’t judge someone unless you truly know them. This is an age-old rule. In grade school, it was a matter of whether or not your pencil case was cool. In high school, it centered around who was in the “popular” crowd. Now, in college, apparently it depends on theories of motivation… Funny how the tides have turned, eh? This won’t become an introductory lesson on “Getting to Know Brooke,” but I will say one thing. I might be a walking Marquette billboard, but it’s because I love my school, the people I have met and the opportunities and experiences I have had here. Everything I do is because I am passionate about it—not to reach some higher reward. Those who truly know me recognize that.
Number two: extrinsic motivation is not a bad thing. Why would it ever be negative to want to achieve a higher goal? Isn’t that basic human nature? The American Dream? To work hard in an effort to eventually attain the reward of doing something you love? Isn’t that what college and all of this stress is for? Success will result from pursuing one’s passions, but sometimes there are hurdles along the way, and to jump those hurdles, a little external push might be necessary. It seems as if extrinsic and intrinsic motivation actually go hand in hand.
Number three: this is college. We’re adults. Be confident in how incredible you are and don’t let the negative opinions of others affect you. If you’re an accounting major because you want to make a ton of money someday, then kudos to you—you’ll be very well off and that’s nothing to be ashamed of. If you plan to drop everything after graduation and travel the world, I admire you. If you want to get a nine-to-five job, settle down in the suburbs and raise a family, I appreciate that someone, in this day and age, still keeps that dream alive. If others don’t understand, who cares? In the long run, it’s not going to matter what trivial rumor was spread about you in college, and it’s certainly not going to matter what type of motivation helped you reach your dreams.
Do what you love, go about it however you want, and maybe next time, genuinely get to know someone before you criticize them. Actually, just don’t criticize them at all.