Fear can push or pull on us and our desires. It can either push you to overcome and conquer or pull you back and make it seem as if reaching your goals is impossible. An infant, toddler, or young child’s mind is a sponge to learning; they are eager and anxious to try that jump off the bed, getting down off that stool alone or just eagerly ready to jump into a gigantic swimming pool. As they begin to grow and better understand how things happen and the possible consequences, we become more careful in our actions. However, from communicating with college students on various campuses, completing tasks seems to be driven by time and captured by fear nowadays. They want to have things done by a set age and in a certain way; once you begin to question them about the process to get there, they retract and aim for the minimum.
Years of working as a young higher education professional-- from the alumni office to institutional advancement to coaching on a softball field and serving as the Director of Student Affairs, I’ve encountered severalstudents sharing what they want to obtain in life followed by “…but I don’t know”. I respond, “You don’t know what?” In many cases, the doubt arises because of the thought or shall I say the fear of the process. The students have great ideas, even greater aspirations; however, the following question 90% of the time is, “How long will that take?” or “What all do I have to do…I don’t think I can do that!” The college student wants everything quickly. Students fear the process and doubt their abilities in the reality of becoming who they want to be.
The college programs, professional development seminars, personal development workshops, mock interviews, learning to dress properly for a 9 to 5, leadership development and simply growing into what your purposed to do can sometimes make an individual feel defeated before they truly begin. Yet it doesn’t teach them how to endure the journey to success. Daily I interact with students. These interactions cover professional, leadership, personal and sometimes spiritual development. I aim to always pour into my students by reminding them they have complete control over their success, providing exposure to working adults with similar goals and creating the picture of endless possibilities in the world.
For students or parents/guardians with young people who seem to be indecisive about their future, there are a few tips I can suggest to help a student stay encouraged and driven to achieve. The primary factor will be to expose the individual to the fields they are interested in. This exposure should not be limited to college students; this process can start at the middle school level. Exposure should consist of, but not be limited to, individuals’ success stories in obtaining their goals and write down any key notes they feel will aid in their personal journey. Secondly for the college student, researching the necessary steps to obtain a certain position is vital at the collegiate level. For example, a student pursues a biology major but has an interest in attending a doctoral program in physical therapy. The bachelor degree may only require two psychology courses to graduate but the prerequisite for the doctoral program is three psychology courses. If the student properly researches what’s necessary, this alone can help limit frustrations or doubt on the journey to greatness. Finally, helping a student to understand resistance and how to deal with it properly. Resistance alone can have a student in fear of completing a task or starting anything new. Resistance is a strength enhancer. The things you think are roadblocks will aid in your growth mentally and force you to think critically about what you want to do. Resistance is used to test your focus on your goals while going through the process.
In conclusion, facing every action responsively (FEAR) will allow the student to properly migrate through the undergraduate experience into the working field and beyond. We must empower students that setbacks may occur and frustrations will arise while on the road to success. They can’t give up because rewards come from risks and setbacks are just strengthening and preparing them for the next level of greatness.