Thursday, February 20, 2014

Trying to Figure It Out

Tonight's post was supposed to be about Studying, but I think I may post it later.  I served on a panel last night for a black women's group on campus and was struck by the young ladies who attended.  Despite the fact that many of them were upperclassmen, some of the verge of graduating, they were still trying to figure out college and making everything work.  Now, by no means do I expect them to be perfect because all phases of life are times of growth, but I was a little surprised -- not by the fact that they were trying to figure it out, but that some of them had not been served well by us.  When I say us, I mean the university as a whole, individual faculty and staff, and the system.

College is a time for growth and exploration.  It's often the first time in a person's life when they are in charge of managing their own lives and negotiating difficult situations.  It is an opportunity to figure out who you are and where you want to go.  On the panel with me was a former Olympian -- pause for moment of awe -- who encouraged the ladies to see college as putting tools in their toolbox for present and future situations.   She sensed the frustration of one attendee and noticed how another wasn't feeding her soul.  When you reach out for help, be it from an advisor, a tutor, a friend, or family there may be time when you're not getting what you need.  The Olympian says walk away in those instances.  Another panelist voiced similar sentiments.  Your path is your own.  Yes, you can learn from what others have done, but they are not you.  In each situation, take what you need and leave the rest.

While there will always be new challenges to figure out at each stage of your life, the key is balance.  That may look different depending on the stage.  You can't be all things to everyone all the time.  You have to know when to let go and when to press forward.  As you press forward as a young scholar, reach out to those whom you trust and who have your best interest at heart.  Find mentors -- academic mentors, spiritual, professional, etc.  People do exist who are willing to listen and offer guidance.  They may not always come in the package you expect, but if you're drawn to someone because something they do or say resonates with you, just go with it.

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