Finals Season

Truth - No two people are the same. While the things that connect us may not be as visible as the things that distinguish us from one another, they are still important. With that being said however, our individuality is both literally and figuratively what makes us different from any and everyone else. There are times when our uniqueness is recognized and valued, but even more so instances where it is overlooked. Our lives are painted over with a broad stroke of a generic narrative. The reality is, our stories, and the colorful illustrations that go with them vary. Treating people as persons instead of collective people can have some powerful impacts. Time to find your inner purpose - this is finals season.

"The world is the true classroom. The most rewarding and important type of learning is through experience, seeing something with our own eyes." Jack Hanna

 When Girls are studying for finals… 
College is not for everyone. Let me say it one more time for dramatic effect. College is not for everyone. That's right you read that correctly. Now more than ever I believe that the traditional collegial experience is not for all. What I do believe is that each and every person should have an equitable opportunity to purse higher education if it is right for them. We as a society need to stop determining people's worth based on their educational attainment, institutional caliber, and intellectual ability. I have had too many students tell me they're not feeling college expecting me to tell them it's normal and it'll be okay. I challenge them to specify if this college is not for them or college in general - both of which are totally fine. I say you don't want to be here, then don't be. The cost is too high in every way possible, and someone else would like to be here instead. It always surprises them but they asked my opinion and they got it. I cannot tell you what you should do; more often than not you already know deep down.

College is not the only way people can contribute productively. In fact 2-year colleges, technical schools, apprenticeships, volunteering, travelling, and the myriad of other options are just as viable. Those old time dreams of going to college, "finding" who you are, and landing your ideal job are long gone. It's just not happening as often anymore. College comes at such a substantial cost - financially, emotionally, and temporally. Is the potential student loan debt, emotional hardship, and spending of your youth worth it? Maybe or maybe not. Only you know that answer. It's time that we start normalizing all the different paths people might take and expand our definitions of who college students are beyond our limited stereotypes. Our campuses are more diverse in all the ways than ever before. In recognizing that, we avail ourselves to more experiences, perspectives, and mindsets. I believe we all have talents and purpose. Even more so many of those talents, skills, and abilities cannot be measured by exams, presentations, and essays. Education is more than just the classroom.
Your GPA does not determine your value as a person. Say it again and let me get an amen. Your grade point average is not the end all be able indicator of your worth. You do so. That is not to say studying and performing well is not important. Rather, all that is asked of you and that can be expected of you is that you do your best. Nothing more and nothing less. It's recognizing that everyone's best is different. If you have to hardcore study and pull all-nighters to do it  during finals, do you. If you do it casually that's also okay. This competition to see who can be the most unstable with sleep deprivation, poor diet, and extreme anxiety is unhealthy. Worry about yourself, and doing what you need to succeed. Eat what you want, exercise, and binge on Netflix. Join the adult coloring book fad, take walk, talk to your friends/family, and SLEEP. You only need to concern yourself with well ... yourself - for once. Prioritize your mental health, ask for help, and use your resources.

Let me tell you, not once have I been asked about my college GPA since I started grad school. It does not matter especially because it was an inaccurate representation of my abilities. I was in the wrong major for too long and did poorly in a few too many classes. I was hyper-involved in clubs, organizations, and committees. I solemnly swear I learned more outside of my class hours than I did in the classroom which is exactly how I ended up in student affairs. I wholeheartedly believe some people discover what they want out of life or what they want to do talking to a professor in office hours, working in a lab, or searching for sources in the library while others find their calling, or more realistically, what they are passionate about writing for the paper, volunteering at the local food shelter, or planning campus wide events. Wherever you figure out what you want to do, that's fine. If you already know that's fine. If you graduate and you still don't know - trust me, that's also fine. We are more than our diplomas or the pursuit of them. We are than our work, jobs, careers, and professions. We are more than we even know or truly realize.
 It’s that time of the semester again (for me)… Good like to all of you brilliant beautiful people out there!Had to share this @WeHeartIt
I stopped using the phrase "first world problems" a long while ago for two reasons: the hierarchical determination of people's quality of life & subsequent value/devaluing was/is determined by those who are most privileged; people's problems are no less valid because of their privilege. Perspective and context is key. I find it absolutely infuriating when people derail conversations, insert the "but what about me" or "someone has it worse," and invalidate another person's experience. I understand there's a difference between dealing with anxiety, sexual harassment, or religious intolerance compared to hunger, disease, and genocide. The reality is we are most focused on the issues that impact us most readily. I believe in global citizenship but that means aiding your own community, the people you pass daily and pay no attention to, or classmates you have no idea are struggling, before jetsetting to go problematically galavant all over indistinct foreign lands where unidentified children suffer from crisis after crisis. Of course it is a privilege to have clean water, food to eat, and a place to rest your heard, and yet still people can have serious issues that are different but no less valid. We have to stop silencing people because they are problems elsewhere or someone has it worse. It doesn't help - at all. Why shut someone down right in front of you especially if you're not actually doing anything to help those anonymous broken bodies suffering somewhere in the world? Minimizing someone's experience does not change the actuality of the disparities in our world. We get to own our experiences, stories, and feelings - the good and the bad.
If you're  having a tough time learning something new, in whatever capacity that may be, that is valid. We also have to remember what a privilege it is to have access to an education. If you have a bachelor's degree know that only 6-7% of the world's population shares that achievement as well. That does not mean you're not allowed to struggle, fail, or vent. It just is something to keep in mind, and a subtle call to action to do something worthwhile, however you are able, wherever you are, with that education. Let us also abandon this outdate narrative of the perfect four-year hurrah that a college experience should be. More and more the time to degree for college students is fluctuating. People have so much going on whether that be family issues, children to take care of, jobs, learning disabilities, medical conditions, other obligations, or just plain difficultly with school. If it takes you an extra semester to even a few more years, that's more than fine. Whether or not you finish, and when you do so is up to you. The ramifications of a prolonged collegial tenure though can be costly both fiscally and on your time in general, but nonetheless the embarrassment of not graduating with the class you entered with needs to be dispelled. You are a class of one, and moving your tassel from right to left can only be determined by you.

The world needs all of us. I deeply believe so with every fiber of my being. No one is a waste. We matter. Above all else, we matter. There are so many jobs that have to be filled whether that be doctor, lawyers, and engineers or sanitation workers, plumbers, and postal service. Not everyone has to get an Ivy League education to have anything of substance to say. We learn from those around us and ourselves. Our experiences can be just as crucial as the research, theories, and laws we value. Finals season is a reminder to tell yourself that you are irreplaceable, invaluable, and one of a kind. Believe that. X


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