Student Athlete Column: Positivity is Key


Taylor Mascetta reflects on the importance of having a positive attitude while running and in everyday life. (Courtesy of Fordham Athletics)

Last week, I got my phone stolen at Rolling Loud. 

One second it was in my bag, the next it was gone. Cue the frantic search in Soulja Boy’s mosh pit. After a panicked call to my parents, I took some deep breaths and accepted the inevitable. The phone was gone. Now, all I had to do was make a choice: spend the rest of the concert wallowing in self-pity or have a good time despite everything that happened. Not wanting to ruin one of the best weekends of my life, I chose the latter. I ended up seeing Future during a torrential downpour, and it was one of the coolest experiences I’ve ever had. It sure was nice to not have to worry about taking a video or water damage, because I was fully in the moment. 

You’re probably reading this wondering what this has to do with athletics. Well, the whole situation represents a shift in mindset that I’ve undergone this past year, and it’s all about the power of positivity. 

I used to enter races expecting the absolute worst possible outcome. I did this for two reasons: one, so anything good coming out of it would feel amazing, and two, to be prepared in advance for things not working out. I’d tell myself,  “Oh, there’s no chance you can win this, that girl’s going to wipe the floor with you.” It worked out in high school, especially my senior year. I was Connecticut’s runner up in the outdoor 800m after running a massive PR. But, based on how confidently I raced, you wouldn’t believe me if I told you I was sprinting around in an absolute panic beforehand. I think the reason I did this was because, in the back of my mind, I always knew everything would go in my favor. Even then I was positive, but allowed negativity to outweigh everything else. 

College track is a whole different ballgame. Sometimes, my competitors wipe the floor with me even when I’m running my absolute best. I can run an 800 in the same time I did at States, yet completely miss the final at Atlantic 10s — this conference is stacked. As a freshman, I went in not expecting success at any of my races, but when I didn’t achieve any success, I beat myself up for days on end. That mental anguish started affecting my workouts, so training became a struggle too. 

I slowly started wondering why I willingly put myself through this pessimistic cycle every week. Why choose to be negative when it does nothing but impact how much I enjoy this sport? The way one’s mind works is a really powerful thing, especially with running. The action itself is already tough, so I tell myself to just embrace the pain rather than complain about it. It hurts either way, but perspective does impact the outcome. I only have a few collegiate seasons left, so why not make the most of it?

Last Saturday, the team ran what my coach considers the hardest workout of the year at Van Cortlandt Park. You run three laps on the track, followed by a tempo on the trails, then you do both of those again and finish with a fast 800m. Simply put, it’s a tough one, but I always do really well at it every year. I refuse to let it freak me out. Seeing these hard workouts as an opportunity to get better works wonders. The better workouts you run, the better you race and the better you feel about the experience afterward. If things don’t exactly go your way, you can always take something away from it to work towards something even greater. 

Both positivity and negativity are extremely contagious. If one person complains, the rest of the group feels permitted to do the same. However, if that same person starts hyping up the situation instead, it uplifts the entire group to want to do their best. I want to see everyone succeed just as much as myself after all! 

 This optimistic outlook doesn’t have to relate to just athletics. It’s good to look towards the bright side in everything. Not everything is inherently good, but it’s not inherently bad either. It depends on the way you look at it, because everything happens for a reason. 

After accepting that my phone was lost forever, I received wonderful news this past weekend. My phone miraculously showed up on Rolling Loud’s lost and found website, ready for pickup. I think it’s a perfect encapsulation of everything always working out in the end.