Keeping Hope Alive


“The very least you can do in your life is figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope. Not admire it from a distance but live right in it, under its roof.” Barbara Kingsolver, Animal Dreams

Have you ever played an amateur backyard game of volleyball? I’m thinking of the rough draft version where there’s not even a net or another player. Just a ball. (And you, running around the yard to keep the thing off the ground). It’s a fun game! Keeping that ball in the air is like keeping hope alive. When the ball is in the air, there’s potential. You run to meet it. You dive to save it. The relationship between you and the ball shows how hard you are willing to work to keep sending it skyward. It’s exciting, exhilarating, great exercise…and exhausting after a while. That game reminds me of my college career.

I was beyond excited to start college. I was up for the challenge, ready to expand my thinking in ways I hadn’t when I was growing up, eager to connect the dots to understand how the world worked as an interwoven web of disciplines, and I was excited to find out what I could do with my college education. Where would I go from there? What new career adventures would I embark on? What was out there that I didn’t even know about?

As a freshman and sophomore I started each class with a fresh mind. I soaked up what the instructors had to say. I spent time on homework assignments and projects so that I could get the most from each class. I connected those dots and started to see the world in a new light. My own career interests started to clarify. I started planning my post baccalaureate career, which actually included staying in academia to get a graduate degree. I looked into grad programs and tried to guide my final semesters in a direction that would prime me for the next level of schooling. And then somewhere in my junior year, I got tired. It was in the middle of investigating graduate programs and trying to excel in my classes and navigating the stresses of non-school life (how many balls were in this game anyway?) when I began to want a break for my post baccalaureate experience.

As I entered my senior year, decisions about the next steps seemed to carry a heavier weight than the decisions in the first two years of college. I started feeling anxiety about the future and exhausted from the stress of constant work. Keeping the hope alive was beginning to be a burden. Perhaps because I was trying to keep too many balls in the air at a time. So I sought help, and I’m glad I did because it eased my suffering almost immediately.

I reached out to mentors, a counselor, and career services to help me put things back in perspective. My mentors were professors and instructors I respected and had developed a relationship with over the years. I knew when I started college that my professors would be able to expose me to things I didn’t even know that I didn’t even know; they helped me realize that the decisions I faced didn’t weigh as much as I thought they did. I sought out a counselor, knowing that my friends could only be a sounding board for so much. With a counselor who I feel confident in, I know that I have an unbiased listener who will help me learn new behavioral and cognitive approaches to manage my fears. Career services showed me career search websites that I’d never heard of and helped me craft a resume that reveals exactly what I’d want an employer to see about my work and education history. This is the first time in my life I’ve been proud of my resume, and the confidence that gives me as graduation approaches has given me a boost of energy to finish strong. Adding a team to this game has been just the thing I needed to keep my hope alive.

Is the stress of keeping too many balls in the air running you down? Are you aware of the services available to you on campus to help you stay in your game? The University Wellness Program is here to connect you to your own backyard volleyball team mates. Follow us on facebook and twitter to keep up with events and activities that  promote wellness. Tell us how you keep your hope alive!

“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” Eleanor Roosevelt


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