Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Delicious with Butter AND Capable of Teaching Valuable Life Lessons

       Don’t forget, you can still change your schedule until 4:30 on Friday, August 29! 
I hope you are enjoying your first week at Scranton and that you are enjoying your classes and the campus.
We know there’s a lot to take in this week!  Between classes and adjusting to college life, it is both exciting and trying.  Difficult times of transition call on us to be our best possible selves. 

      I heard the most impactful metaphor for this when I was a graduate student at the University of Scranton, working on my MS in Rehabilitation Counseling.  I was in the very first meeting of Dr. Lori Bruch’s Developmental Psychology course.  While, by that point, I was well accustomed to graduate school and handling first day jitters, I was jittery nonetheless.  Always blessed with the ability to gauge the emotions of the room, Dr. Bruch shared an anecdote, about lobsters of all things, which shifted my perspective.

      At the time, I didn’t know much about lobsters—except, perhaps, that they are delicious.  However, Dr. Bruch, who was drawing from a newspaper clipping that I would credit if I could, explained that a lobster is also surprisingly impervious to harm. If they lose a claw, they can regenerate it.  Their exoskeleton protects them well from a host of potential predators and while they are not immortal, as some internet memes may suggest, they could definitely out live us. 

Unlike most organisms, lobsters continue to grow their entire lives.  A lobster’s body enlarges inside its tough outer shell until it becomes uncomfortable.  To continue its growth, a lobster must shed its protective shell.  As it waits for the new one to harden, the lobster is incredibly vulnerable but it takes that risk--sometimes as often as five times a year—just for the sake of growing.  

    This is a metaphor that extends easily to college life and quite frankly, all transitions.  How common is that discomfort within us when we know it’s time to change--the gnawing questions about what could be, the feeling of stagnation, the dissatisfaction with the status quo?  As a student on the precipice of college life, it might manifest itself in the urge to experience greater academic and personal freedom for self-determination and expression—the readiness to make your life in the shape you desire using the tools of your own choosing.
It’s a time that requires you to be ready to assume the risks of casting off your shell and experiencing the vulnerability that is inevitable in such a situation.  There is a risk in putting yourself out there for others, reaching out and being open to meeting the new and different individuals and fully embracing the world around you.  There is a risk in leaving home and striking out on your own, in trying courses that will challenge you and of committing yourself to being fully involved in those courses even if you might be wrong when you participate in class.  There is a risk in opening your heart and mind up to all the new experiences that surround you. 

     However, I can promise you that these are risks well worth taking.  I have seen Scranton students evolve in remarkable and wonderful ways—those who have started out with faltering steps who walk across the stage at graduation with confident strides.  The vulnerability you will assume here will be worth it.  And just as a lobster might seek out shelter to make it through its period of vulnerability, you can seek out our support in the CAS Advising Center to moderate your risks, to increase your likelihood of accomplishment and to help you turn unfavorable outcomes into personal success.  Stop in!  That’s why we are here!

 Katie Robinson
CAS Academic Advisor

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