Sitting in the storm

Last week I received some feedback from a student here at UON that being a successful student isn’t as easy as they thought or as easy as some students make it look. Many students in fact are juggling many more commitments in addition to their study or are struggling with their physical or mental health and that sometimes it’s all they can do just to hold on, let alone succeed in making great grades. Initially I heard myself saying “I hear you” and I reflected on my not so recent days completing my postgraduate program whilst juggling part-time work, being pregnant and then a mum and trying to find time for me, and thinking that it would never end. Then I thought surely I must have some words of wisdom and tips for how I made it through.

There is the classic line “P’s get degree’s” that lingers and how you need to adjust and have lower expectations of yourself, or that there are more important measures of success in general other than what grade you get back on an assignment. But these seemed empty then and even emptier now if that’s possible. I thought about other posts I have made on juggling multiple demands and being able to identify and work on all your goals, or how to plan your way to success, or how to breath again when it all seems overwhelming. All of these are great tips and I certainly used some of them from time to time but still I couldn’t help but feel I still had nothing to offer this student, and as she also identified the many other students out there that are juggling many commitments. Those students who feel like the tips are not for them, who feel like they are just holding on.

Then it occurred to me that maybe I couldn’t fix it, maybe what I can offer isn’t a solution but more an acknowledgement that it’s hard to be them. It’s hard to make sacrifices for education. Yes they chose to do it, to make the sacrifices but it doesn’t mean they have to like making them or that it will be an easier road because they made the choice. So instead of a string of tips, suggestions of things to try, or some fabulous resources that you could use today I am acknowledging the struggle. I’m essentially sitting with you in the storm and saying that yes your journey is difficult, yes there are higher hills you climb to try and reach your goals, yes there are days, weeks and months even when you are drenched in self doubt and questioning if you made the right choice. Now I know that this doesn’t fix anything for you and you may feel it’s a bit of a cop out but sometimes it’s not about the solution. Sometimes it’s about acknowledging the struggle and hearing that someone understands that it’s not an easy road you are traveling.

But just in case I’m off base and you are a student who is juggling quite a few commitments and have some ideas to share with others who might find themselves in this same position then please comment below and share your tips –  I could certainly use a few new ones myself.

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