On Resilience and Doing the Hard Things

Here at the Daily Deac we try to keep an eye on articles that are about college life and student development.  Both of these were fluttering across my Facebook feed this weekend, and while these two articles are not specific to college students, the titles alone spoke to me:  “Emotional Resilience: What Makes the Difference Between Surviving & Thriving?” and “You Have to Do the Hard Things.”

As with everything else, read these with your normal filter.  Some of these ideas might appeal, others not.

Let’s start with the idea of doing the hard things.  Wake Forest students are highly aware of the idea of success.  It took a lot of work to get into Wake, and our students are largely a very driven group and focused on outcomes and accolades.  For some of them, it can be daunting to be among a group of their ‘success peers’ – people who are just as [insert adjective here – smart, accomplished, good looking, talented] as they are.   For others, they might see that a high tide rises all boats, and being among the very best helps them rise to the occasion.

Early in their tenure here, many students find that they have to ramp up their work and study habits to have the academic success they want.  They are learning that they do have to do some of the “Hard Things” that this article discusses.  Two of them might be especially unpleasant to this success-oriented student body:  “You have to make mistakes and look like an idiot” and “You have try and fail and try again.”

While I disagree with the use of the word ‘idiot,’ I do agree that every student will make mistakes (just like we adults do!) and that we have to fail and try again.  Those moments stink, you and I both know that.  No one relishes them.  But the way we respond to those failures and ‘teachable moments’ can help us be better tomorrow and the next day.

In those moments of stress, pressure, or failure (whether they come from grades, assignments, finding a path to a career, romantic relationships, etc.), there are campus resources that offer support (Counseling Center, Campus Ministry, Academic Advising, and so many more).  But it helps to have some internal support as well, and that is where the idea of emotional resilience can come into play.

This article talks about ways that all of us can help cultivate the resilience we need to get through difficult times.   The ideas are not revolutionary – be connected, be present, be positive, give back, be kind to yourself.

Do these articles have any relevance?  Might they make a difference to your student or others?  I am not sure I am sold on all the “Hard Things” (some of them seem a bit extreme).  Hard work does tend to pay great dividends or reap great rewards.   And there should be a delicate balance between aiming to give your best effort and not expecting perfection, which none of us can achieve.  What is the right balance between happiness and success?  Is it in being resilient?

We welcome your thoughts and reactions at parents@nullwfu.edu.

 

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