By Timothy Ryan
Students gathered for a meeting in the Brower Student Center Room 216 on April 3 for a short presentation regarding the importance of prioritizing one’s own mental health and development.
Maria Quattrocchi Haber (’11), a coordinator for student engagement, arranged the meeting. While the audience was small, there was a clear similarity in the level of passion and interest regarding the topics Haber brought up to the audience.
Haber began her presentation by asking the audience members what they would define as personal development. While most did not raise their hands, sophomore urban education and sociology dual major Sophia Hayda responded.
“(Personal development) means making yourself the best you can be,” she said.
Haber also asked the audience why personal development should matter.
“If you’re not okay internally, you wouldn’t be able to function externally,” said Ariana Berberabe, a senior marketing major. “Give yourself some room to breathe.”
Haber strongly advised the students present to work toward understanding their strengths and never to let their weaknesses overshadow their positive qualities.
Actively comparing oneself to peers or “feed(ing) into their negativity” could snowball into a skewed and damaged self-image, Haber explained; there is no useful reason to dwell on aspects of one’s life that already occurred and cannot be changed.
She explained how it’s easy to let one’s own anger and negativity fester after getting cut off in traffic; at some point everyone needs to learn that it is healthier to let go of that negativity.
Later in the presentation, Haber explained how the generalized population places far too little emphasis on how they treat mental health in contrast with how much they should.
“We don’t encourage you enough to take care of yourself,” she said.
Haber also asked what audience members could do to improve upon themselves with regards to their own personal development.
Hayda jokingly responded that actually getting eight hours of sleep could be a good starting point — a thought that resonated with the audience and was met with a few chuckles.
Haber recommended several ways actively to improve oneself, such as acting more confident and procrastinating less.
“If you know you can get something done in advance, get it done in advance,” Haber said.
At the presentation’s closing, Haber told listeners to make decisions that reflect the best version of themselves.
“Surround yourself with better people,” she said. “If the people in your circle are starting drama, try to remove yourself from that position.
“A lot of the times we know what we need to do, we just haven’t started the steps yet. Life likes to throw us curveballs.”
The presentation’s impact was clear based on the smiles people wore as they left the room.
“That was a lot more impactful than I thought it was gonna be,” Hayda said. “I’m glad I decided to come.”