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Interview on “Losing and Finding Motivation” by Cesia Cordies

Questions by Mei-Mei Mijares

M: This story was so relatable—I forced myself to double major in Communication and English until figuring out I only took on Communication because it was “practical.” Liberal arts gets such a bad rep! If you could reason with those nay-sayers (which we know could be difficult), how would you explain why history is something to love and value?

C: I wish we would stop measuring a career’s usefulness based on the money it provides for us; studying history is such an efficient way for me to learn about and understand the world we live in today, that’s why I love it. Along with this, one can value studying history because of all the skills we need to develop just to study it. The ability to synthesize several complex sources, to do the research, to articulate complex arguments, and to use the critical thinking skills required to make a valid historical argument is anything but useless.

M: I liked your segment on the “hustlers.” What tips would you give to others who are also not hustlers? Were there any specific things that you learned from your therapist that you still use today to keep that self-discipline?

C: I think the best tip I can give to my fellow non-hustlers is to be realistic with yourself and not beat yourself up in the process. I know I’m not the type to pull all-nighters or fill up my schedule for several days in a row, so I avoid it. It’s not a bad thing at all to be unwilling to do these things; some of us just don’t get that high or that feeling of satisfaction after forcing ourselves through loads of work we’re not willing to take on at the moment. As for the therapist, she told me to make a list when I’m overwhelmed by the amount of work I need to do and burn myself out with just the thought of it. I just make a simple list of all the things I want to do (I tend to approach my work with the urge to get it all done at once so this is really helpful), and then I pick two to four things on the list that are the most urgent. Then, my goal for the day becomes those two to four tasks and suddenly I’m motivated enough to take on that work.

M: You mentioned that you actually picked up a book on Environmental Science on your own accord because you were so interested in it! What book was it and what about the topic made you pick it up?

C: So I was actually talking about my required textbook in that section - yes, I was so unmotivated those first two years that I rarely did any of my required readings so finding myself reading a textbook was impressive to me. However, I really did enjoy reading that textbook. I wanted to understand everything I was reading and I didn’t really dread reading it because I loved the knowledge I was gaining from it.

M: What is your all-time favorite era and/or topic of history?

C: This changes often, but my realization that I wanted to study history came from learning about the French Revolution of 1789, so I will always have a soft spot for that topic. However, I’m currently most interested in the Cuban Revolution of 1959. I guess you can say my favorite topic is revolutions!

M: If you could tell past you one thing, regarding motivation, what would you say?

C: Stop undermining its importance! I forced myself through a bunch of work I didn’t care for and when I wouldn’t get everything done I would beat myself up for being so ‘undisciplined.’ I decided to start living mindfully at the beginning of the pandemic, and with that came my realization that I need motivation and shouldn’t expect myself to get through all my work without it.

M: I saw that you have a concentration in Latin American History—what is the most empowering thing you’ve learned so far? Is there anything that has helped you understand your heritage better? I took an Asian American Migration class in college and when I learned about Filipino Americans, I felt so seen, so I thought maybe something like that has happened for you!

C: It is only my second semester as a history major, so I still have much to learn, but the most empowering event I’ve learned about so far is the Haitian Revolution of 1804. I love seeing the power of unity leading the masses to victory, and I love how the Haitian Revolution provides this lesson, especially for the black community. Studying the Cuban Revolution is also especially fulfilling because I’m Cuban and have always been disappointed with how little I know of my own history, so I love that I can dedicate my schoolwork to something that personally helps me.

M: And finally, what are you up to and where can our audience find you?

C: Right now I’m just dedicated to my schoolwork and exploring different options for my future career, along with writing blogs and the newsletter here at LYF (which has been a really fun learning experience). Our audience can find me on Instagram @cesirii

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