You’re Stronger Than You Know

By: Christina Ferrari 
If my first year in graduate school taught me anything, it taught me that I’m strong and can handle more than I give myself credit for. It taught me that a difficult experience won’t break me and success isn’t about having life handed to you on a silver platter—it’s about hard work and overcoming more than you knew you could. Success is taking chances and putting yourself out there, taking a risk, and doing the best you can every single day. Oh, and that one misstep doesn’t equal failure.

Sometimes we learn the most by being thrust into something outside of our comfort zone. In student development theory, we might call that dissonance…when it feels like a storm is raging in our hearts and we start to question every decision, every thought, every feeling, and doubt consumes us.

“Am I in the right program?” “Is something wrong with me?” “Will I ever find a job?”

Perhaps the biggest challenge for graduate students and new professionals is accepting that we don’t have everything figured out yet…and that’s because we shouldn’t. All we can do is make the best decision for ourselves, in the present moment, with the knowledge we currently have and in the context that we’re presently in. I’m quickly learning in my internship that tough decisions never go away. There will always be people who don’t understand, who don’t care, or who care too much. Whether it’s your professional life they’re judging or a new campus-wide initiative, everyone has opinions and will want to make those opinions known. But guess what? The only opinion that matters when it comes to your life and your work is yours.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t consult others, far from it. The words of wisdom and support I’ve received this year offered me perspective and comfort when I couldn’t give that to myself. But at the end of the day, when those tough decisions must be made, you will be the one dealing with the consequences so trust yourself to make the best decisions that you can. And then, learn to let it go. Breathe. Move on, and know you will be able to handle anything that comes your way. You will find the same strength inside to handle the consequences of your decisions. Believe me, I know that’s easier said than done and can be a long and difficult process. I am still in the midst of that process but I know that no matter what happens, I am a woman who has weathered the storm and have within me the strength and ability to find sunshine despite how many clouds try to hide it.

Student Affairs - the First Years

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