Shutting off the thought process is not rejuvenating; the mind is like a car battery - it recharges by running." -Bill Watterson
For those that work in student affairs, it should be no surprise that these posts have been very sporadic in the month of October. With the combination of student midterms, homecoming, wedding events, Halloween festivities, and many more events on campus, things have gotten fairly hectic.
One of the projects I'm currently working on with our new school counselor is a group counseling session for a group of about seven students. Although everything said in the group is confidential (and should stay that way), I started our first session with an ice breaker. A few years back I had created a question ball with over 200 questions on it and it is always a fun way to ease a group into different discussion points. While throwing around the ball, one of the questions that came up was, "If you could go back and change anything in your life, what would it be?" I honestly forgot I had written that question because it is one of my least favorite questions to break the ice. It's kind of hard to explain, but it puts the participant in a bad position.
First and foremost they are recalling a negative aspect of their life and then have to share it with the group. In many ways this may bring back old memories that a student may have wished to be forgotten and then they have to relive the embarrassment of that event. If the event was bad, they may not share it and then feel guilty for not being honest with the group.
The second aspect is part of a bigger element of rejuvenation. We see this in skin care products all the time. Return your skin to the way it looked five years ago! Undo those stretch marks and winkles. By no means am I telling anyone what to do with their bodies, they have the right to do whatever they want, but it is the society principle of youth is beauty. Getting older is just a way of life, by fighting it, in many ways you are just losing over and over again. We cannot live forever, nor should we ever! Read 'Tuck Everlasting' if you disagree. In many ways you have to follow the direction of the river and enjoy it instead of restoring a previous time in our lives. Too many people live their lives fighting the current and becoming exhausted from this experience. I've found the happiest people in life are the ones that enjoy the ride. Wear the wrinkles and past experiences with pride, they tell a story and realize this is usually a sign of wisdom and knowledge. It is okay to be scared of the unknown and scared of death, heck that is one of my biggest fears! But it is also important to not worry about things you don't have control over. If you spend your whole life worrying about things that may happen or things that have already happened, are you really living in the first place? Caution in life can be healthy, but worry will not get you far.
The last point I would like to end up on is to look at your past with fondness, but also look to the future and live in the present. You can't go back in time to change who you were, but you do have the power to change who you are now. If you are happy with who you are, don't wish to undo previous experiences, those experiences have led you to who you are right now. There is nothing that says if you undid a prior experience, you wouldn't turn around and do the same mistake later in life. Things happen for a reason and often enough, they happen at a right time as well. It is human to make mistakes, but it is also superhuman to take those mistakes and own them. When someone asks you "If you could go back and change anything in your life, what would it be?" I hope you simply smile and respond, "I wouldn't change a thing!"
Question Time: What are some events in your past that have made you who you are today?