Ask Momo: 1/14/2016

New year, new naptimes, folks. Try to keep up. I hope you had a pleasant and restful human holiday. Mine was spent covertly peeping at my humans through the low-hanging boughs of their strange artificial tree, sampling some fine Christmas catnip, and savagely rending roll upon roll of crisp new wrapping paper. My goals for the new year? To stay as magnificent as ever and to take my advice column as seriously as I always have—which is to say, mostly seriously to varying degrees. Here’s to another year of everyone’s favorite slightly snarky, mostly earnest scribbling kitty.

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Dear Momo,

What are some good ways to get better at self-control? I get distracted while studying a lot. This is my last semester as a college student and I want to be able to graduate knowing I did my best. 

–Alex

Here’s one thing to do, Alex: don’t start trying to build your self-control in your last semester of college. I mean, better late than never? But seriously, you’re not leaving yourself a lot of time or motivation to improve. The last year of college is notoriously a time of what humans like to call “senioritis”—a pale imitation of what cats do all the time, which is to laze around, hiss at other cats through the window, and have overly angry or emotional reactions to everyday interactions. Simply put, I doubt you can do it. 

Having others doubt you is one way to motivate yourself, so you’re welcome. It’s also probably not the healthiest way to go about it. If you want to build up your self-control, set up a system. This can be a system of small rewards for accomplishing tasks, or a schedule of time-slots where everything fits neatly and things get done. You can also forgive yourself for getting distracted—you are, after all, at the end of a long and (I assume) grueling educational marathon, and the workforce life ahead of you is even longer. You might be burned out, depending on how well you were doing before. Give yourself time to recharge productively by doing things that benefit you as a human, like exercising or talking to other humans. I don’t know, I’m a cat for god’s sake. My ability to self-control is even more finite than a human’s.


 

Dear Momo,

Are you instagram-famous? Do you have any tips on getting more followers on instagram?

–Elyse

Dear Elyse,

Being instagram-famous is for those who suffer from a low sense of self-worth and must find their validation in the empty double-taps of strangers. To answer your question: no, I am not instagram-famous.


 

Dear Momo,

This past Christmas I got a boring present that I’m trying to avoid getting next year. Any tips on how I can drop hints to this person that they suck at giving gifts? I left out catalogs with things circled, or mentioned gifts that other people got that were great, but this person apparently didn’t get the hint.

–G

Dear G,

Act as entitled and bratty as you sound in this question, and boom! No more gifts.


 

Dear Momo,

As you may or may not know, college application season just ended and that means thousands of high school seniors around the country have been working on their admissions essays. I don’t have kids of my own, but I have been so proud watching my niece apply for schools and dream of her future. However, I recently found out that my brother, a high school English teacher, has been helping my niece with her essays. Maybe I should say “helping,” because it seems that he has been basically writing them for her! She told me, very nonchalantly, that she tends to write a first draft and then her dad would rewrite entire paragraphs for her, while only keeping a few phrases here and there from her original draft. This makes me feel very uncomfortable, as I don’t feel she’s getting into these schools on her own steam. How can I bring this up with my niece and my brother in a way that’s not too accusatory? She’s a good student and a good girl, and I don’t like to see her sliding into these moral gray areas. 

Concerned Aunt

Dear Concerned Aunt, 

I will let you in on a little secret. Life can’t be lived without occasionally sliding into what you call “moral gray areas.” I’ll let you in on a second secret. Every single high school student applying for college has had help in some way. Even if they’re not having parents edit essays, adults have boosted them on this path. 

I tell you this not because I necessarily condone parents rewriting bits and pieces of college essays, but because there’s really nothing you can do about the situation now, since the essays are submitted. And there’s no use beating yourself up about it. I mean, you can call the schools and snitch on your niece and her father, but what good would that do? Best to let this go for your own peace of mind.

You can talk to your niece about the situation as a sort of future hypothetical and ask her what she thinks about this “cheating,” as I suspect you think of it. Explain, to yourself and to her, the stakes of getting into schools “on her own steam,” and what the benefits of that hard work might be. If she’s anything like a typical high school student, she’s probably being trained to prize the end goal (getting into a good school) over everything else. It might take an outside viewer to explain to her why there are benefits to doing things yourself, even if the result isn’t perfect. This is why I still bother to kill and eat spiders, even though my cat food is perfectly delicious and always available. It helps to sharpen the mind and claws. 

 

 

As always, you can send questions or comments or idle musings to me, Momo, via the [ASK MOMO] link at the top of the site. Don’t be shy.

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