Resiliency, Disappointment, and Expectations: Helping Your Students Move Past it All

This week the topic of the Academic Advising Chat on Twitter was Resiliency, with a capital ‘R.’

Is resiliency fluid, or something you can only strengthen over time? Can you get it back if you feel like you’ve lost it? Merriam Webster defines resilience as “the ability to become strong, healthy, or successful again after something bad happens.”

So, resiliency is something that you cannot simply possess. It’s not divine right. You have to learn to be resilient. Fair enough.

At this point in my life, I would call myself resilient. I would also call myself determined, creative, persistent, and innovative. And how did I get to be this way? Failing spectacularly, over and over again.

Amount of work is the same

Every time something doesn’t work out, there are two choices.

  1. Self Pity
  2. Deal with it

Walking through door number one can be extremely appealing. You know. Putting on comfy sweat pants, turning on Netflix, pouting, and putting that emergency Ben & Jerry’s to good use. Maybe there are tears, maybe there’s a feeling of emptiness. It’s like becoming a lump of immovable sadness.

Choosing door number two is a completely different experience. This guy embodies it perfectly.

What’s he doing? He’s making the best out of a situation that most of us would find infuriating. But it’s not so cut and dry. Not quite.

Disappointment is deeply intertwined with failure and/or rejection, and resilience. To borrow from this article from Psychology Today, “Disappointment comes with finality–the recognition that you don’t have, didn’t get, or will never achieve whatever it is that you wanted… Perhaps the way in which to foster resilience is to construct realistic appraisals of what you need, avoid idealizing what could be, and come to terms with what you have.”

You’re wonderful, and that’s not disputable.

We’ve come to expectations. Oh, expectations. You’re funny little things. Expectations can make or break an experience. It’s a fine line to tread, staying hopeful and trying to envision what could go right, but not dreaming too big in case things don’t work out. You have to keep expectations for things at an arm’s length. You’re wonderful, and that’s not disputable. Things don’t always work out and you need to be mentally prepared for that experience should it come about.

This is something that’s incredibly relevant in the field of academic advising, since there are tons of students dealing with their own resilience, disappointment, and expectations every day. Maybe they didn’t get into their major of choice; maybe they’re bombing their first major courses; maybe they’re struggling to balance their job and school; maybe their family doesn’t approve of their choices… There are innumerable things that will challenge our students’ sense of resiliency each and every day, and the more familiar we are with our own resiliency and how it feels to fail, the better we can serve them. Advising is teaching, after all!

What experiences have helped shape your sense of resilience? How can you, or do you, use those experiences to  in order to help your advisees get past a setback? Leave your thoughts in the comments below, or mention me on @Twitter!

Resiliency, Disappointment, and Expectations- Helping Your Students Move Past it All -


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