Many of you know that I am a HUGE movie buff, and over breaks I tend to get me a family-size box of Cheez-Its, a mug of hot chocolate and settle on my couch to watch a ton of movies. Now, this might not be the healthiest lifestyle during break but its an emotional re-charge that totally gets me ready for the months ahead until the next break.
During this most recent break, I watched one of my favorites, Rudy, the 1993 film starring Sean Astin as Daniel E. Ruettiger, or Rudy, as was his nickname.
Synopsis: Rudy is a young man from a blue collar family with dreams of attending and playing football at the University of Notre Dame. Although an uphill battle, he accomplishes his goal, perhaps not in the way he thought but nonetheless, he accomplished his dream.
Now, let me tangent and say that I normally shed a few tears during the warm-fuzzy moments of this film, but for some reason this time a particular scene caught my attention amidst the Kleenex dabs. Rudy was in a moment of frustration and desperation from not accomplishing his dream thus far and he was speaking with Father Cavanaugh who was a mentor and advisor:
Father Cavanaugh: [in church] Taking your appeal to a higher authority?
Rudy: I’m desperate. If I don’t get in next semester, it’s over. Notre Dame doesn’t accept senior transfers.
Father Cavanaugh: Well, you’ve done a hell of a job kid, chasing down your dream.
Rudy: Who cares what kind of job I did if it doesn’t produce results? It doesn’t mean anything.
Father Cavanaugh: I think you’ll find that it will.
This dialogue for some reason hit me. And I think we all encounter these types of situations more often than we’d like. But these few lines of dialogue was all took to remind me that it is the JOURNEY that means something. As a Student Affairs professional, friend, mentor and fellow human being, perhaps the best way I can help and advise is to help others and myself remember that it’s the job we do and lessons learned in chasing our ambitions that is the real reward.
We all have dreams and goals in various stages. We all get discouraged over them. And we all tend to forget that its not the end result but the work and growth we experience in the process. Even as Student Affairs professionals and advisors, we tend to forget this amidst our need for higher graduation rates, higher matriculation rates, and playing our office politics. We forget to help the students and each other embrace the journey towards learning and growing, whether or not there’s a graduation or promotion at the end of the journey. (Another way to look at it could also include that if we really want to prove the worth of higher education, then shouldn’t we use the journey just as much as the sheepskin paper or titles?)
Its definitely a balance and sometimes I’m ‘on’ and other times I fall into the numbers and office politics fog. But when I’m on, I always ask my friends, colleagues and students what have they learned about themselves from their time in college, regardless the end result? What skills or traits were they able to hone? What experiences did they have? And I always reassure them that its the journey and the job that they did not the end result, that defines them. Cause who knows, maybe not graduating or not getting that promotion has set them up for something even better. (I can personally attest to that)
None of us will accomplish our every dream or goal. But everyone EVERYTIME will learn from our journeys.
So I know this year I’ll be working on making meaning for myself, and helping students, friends and colleagues make meaning in the journey regardless of the end results. It’s all worth it and means something and “I think you’ll find that it will” too.
Until next time
Peace, Love and Pandas!