Dare Greatly

By Christina Ferrari

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly...who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails daring greatly"

The quote above by Theodore Roosevelt was introduced to me in a TED talk by Brene Brown, a researcher whose expertise is vulnerability and shame. If you haven’t heard her speak about these topics yet, I invite you to take a listen here. This quote resonates with me because it encourages us to take risks. To go for it, and fully embrace opportunities that come our way. To live life boldly and bravely, to live according to our own desireson our terms…not through other’s expectations. If we dare greatly and fail, at least we tried and grew from that failure because we acted authentically. If we succeed, then we have accomplished quite a feat-- something to be truly proud of. Wcan remind the world, and ourselves, that anything really is possible if we dare greatly.

More times than not, in my experience, taking risks reaps reward.  If we live life safely and we turn down that job in a new city or never reach out to that administrator because we’re afraid they’ll blow us offif we avoid putting ourselves out there for fear of rejection, failure, or weakness we live a life controlled by shame and doubt. As a student affairs professional, that’s not the type of life I want my students to lead and certainly not one I want to live either. What about you?

This semester I dared to take on multiple commitments in addition to a full graduate course load. Between my internshipsand assistantship, I was often working twelve sometimes fifteenhour days. A lot of people thought I was nuts, why would I do this to myself? They were convinced I’d burn out.  The past five months were exhausting and yes, there were days when I felt like I was beaten down, dirty and bleeding in the arena. But I kept at it, taking it all one hour at a time. became an expert at reading during my morning commute, I ran errands with friends to simultaneously complete my to-do list and socialize. I creatively integrated my professional experiences and class assignments. I scheduled out pretty much every moment of the day and I even designated time for self-care (seriously, check my planner. There’s an appointment called “me-time” in there at least once a week).

The people in my life who know me knew this was what I needed to do professionally and personally. They knew that formy two years of graduate school, my priority was preparing myself to enter into the student affairs profession.  They also knew that I thrive on a full schedule and enjoy having multiple things going on in my life. They understood and appreciated my ambition and dedication to getting the most out of my graduate experience. Most importantly, they respected and supported me in this endeavorMany people would have played it safe and either turned the new opportunity down or rescinded something. I knew this particular situation was temporary, after this semester I would have a lighter course-load and one less commitment to manage. also knew if I didn’t at least try to make it all work, I’d let myself down and would wonder “what if?” So, after much discernment and reflection, I decided to give it all a go.

Please understand, I anot advocating for you to take onmore than you can handle. Rather, I want to emphasize that I knew myself well enough to know I could and would handle it all. Deep down I had the inner strength to make it all work, and was willing to do what it took to thrive this semester. As a 20-something year old I knew I had the energy and ability to figure it out. also recognized that multiple responsibilities are a part of life; and for someone who longs to complete her PhD, have children, a spouse, and pursue passions of theater, travel, and dance I’d have to learn how to manage multiple priorities at some point so why not now?

About a month ago I was talking to my internship supervisor, an administrator at a small institution and mother of a one-year-old. “Christina, never let someone tell you what you can or can’t do. You know what you’re capable of, and yours is the only voice to listen to. Hold onto that voice.” Her message was one of experience, she faced obstacles navigating the field and moving up the professional ranks quickly. Daring greatly means greeting a challenge head on and shutting out thosevoices in your head that whisper “you’re not good enough” or “no, you can’t”.

As this term comes to a close, I wrapped up my internship with a glowing evaluation, finished my other positions on a high note with a pending publication in one and positive studentevaluations in the other. On top of all that, I received a 4.0 GPA for the semester in some of the hardest classes I have taken to dateWas it easy? Hell no. Do I wish I had more time to myself or to be with my friends? Absolutely. Is this the way I alwaysplan to live? Of course not, but as a graduate student with just myself to care for who is preparing for the job search this year I felt it was what I needed to do at the timeI proved to myself that if I dare greatly, decide to give it a go and pour every bit of myself into my commitments, I will muster the strength inside to rise to the challenge and succeed.  I share my story with hope that you choose to dare greatly and take on whatever challenge life presents to you. Take a calculated risk. Be bold, know yourself—recognize and remember that you have an incredible force inside of you capable of achieving amazing things. Believe you can, surround yourself with people who support and love you, and know that taking risks allows us to learn life’s most important lessons.

Student Affairs - the First Years

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