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Students should build resilience

Anna Scott Lovejoy

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Everyone discovers that getting knocked down is a part of life in some way or another. As a college student, it can feel as if life is practically punting you across a football field at least once or twice a week. Life becomes this constant battle of putting out the closest fire in the pathway ahead, and the most successful students, workers and people are typically the ones who put out fires the fastest and most efficiently. Success is a broad term, and the controversial notion of exactly what constitutes as a successful person is something that will forever be in debate. Although measuring success proves to be a difficult task, a majority of students like myself are mostly concerned with what we can do right now to ensure that we reach our own version of success. What factors are the most important to focus on between studies, internships or networking, successful people seem to have an overall similar belief that their success was reached due to a continuous effort to excel in all of these fields.

Gorman Houston, University of Alabama marketing professor, offered a valuable word of insight relating to exactly what characteristic all of the most successful people generally have in common when he came to speak to the Believe Honors 405 class this past week. He began the lecture by asking what we thought the most important factor for success after graduation was. He stated that it was resilience. Immediately this made sense to me, for life as a college student overwhelmed with all sorts of activities, classes, and planning for the future it is inevitable to fail every now and then. As I stated earlier, life loves to kick you down when you’re barely hanging on. Professor Houston proposed the point that life is aggressive, and those who succeed in life are also aggressive. 

As he continued to go into depth about resilience, he also asserted the notion that this day in age people have to be more aggressive than ever. Going with the flow simply does not cut it anymore, for technology creates a networking line of accessibility unlike ever before. Every person with access to the Internet now has access to information and contacts all over the world, thus the millennial generation, including the college students at The University of Alabama, must be aggressive in pursuing their personal career goals. A series of competitive people vying for a position at a certain company is nearly a guaranteed part of a job application this day in age, and everyone wants to be the applicant who shows the most interest and passion about that particular job. 

The problem with all of this is that while we are expected to be the most aggressive and resilient, we also expect results instantly. I am guilty of using the Maps App on my iPhone to give me directions to someone’s house that is only two blocks away because taking the risk of making even one wrong turn would not be worth the possible minute or two my mistake might cause me to waste. In this sense, on a greater scale of course, the millennial generation has missed out on the old fashioned road map, making the wrong turns, trying all over again, arriving two days late, but still arriving, type of experiences in life. Professor Houston suggested that it is those very type of experiences that build resilient character into someone, and our generation is faced with the task to be aggressively resilient due to the competitive nature of our world, even though we lack the resilient character needed to succeed. 

Although just living life and growing up may not be enough to automatically build resilience into the character of a person, it can still be developed and earned. College students of this generation may not have grown up building this character trait that is so crucial for success, but by emerging themselves into difficult, foreign, and tedious challenges, resilience can be learned. This entire idea about a learned resilience seems plausible and recognizably important on the journey of becoming a successful person. Life always happens when you least expect it, and those who are not discouraged by the trails and tribulations of life are very often the successful ones.

Anna Scott Lovejoy is a sophomore majoring in general business and biology. Her column runs biweekly.

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Students should build resilience