What an amazing weekend! For those of you that didn’t read my last post, I spent my weekend attending the 2018 Florida Collegiate Honors Council event, where selected students presented artwork, writing, and research. I was surrounded by so many outstanding students who touched on a variety of topics ranging from urban sprawl to nutrition analyses of D1 NCAA cross-country girls. There was even a student led music performance/open table where three Florida Gulf Coast University students played and taught music to us! These weren’t your run of the mill music majors either. All of them have performed across the world and are known internationally. Let’s just say my jaw dropped every time they played.
I love conferences because I get the chance to meet very diverse people in different majors with different interests, which isn’t something that typically happens as you progress in college. I met people that researched ways to kill invasive snail species with soy proteins and how to build a sustainable business. Like, what the heck? Aside from that, you get to meet students that are interested in the same topics as you. I hit it off with the food and fitness people of course haha. Did you know the more steps a student gets the more likely they are to perform better in school? Or that meat production is the largest contributing factor to greenhouse gas emissions?
My research team and I presented “The Short Term Effects of VTS Facilitation on Self-Esteem”, which sounds intimidating at a quick glance, but it’s really quite simple. VTS, or Visual Thinking Strategies, is a method of engaging in artwork through a facilitator led discussion. The participants usually spend about 15 minutes talking about a work of art, and a typical session includes 4 pieces. VTS uses 3 very specific questions to fully engage the participants and help them connect with the work. VTS has been shown to help people cope with anxiety, depression, Alzheimer’s, PTSD, and many other health conditions.
While the data on this is very prominent for participants, there’s not a drop of data to show how VTS affects its facilitators. So, that’s what we researched! The statistics showed there’s not a large effect on the facilitators, but thankfully there’s good news! When people were given the option to write down their feelings after VTS, we received numerous comments on how it helped the student facilitator forget about the stress in his/her life and relax. We even had a facilitator jump from an extremely low self-esteem score pre-facilitation to a very high score post-facilitation. Personally, I found that it helped me cope with stress and school, so I’m definitely all for it regardless of what the numbers showed.
I didn’t write this post to tell you about my research, though. I wrote it because I wanted you to know there’s still hope. I often hear adults say that there’s no hope for my generation. We are too busy on our cell phones and using technology to really develop our skills. To a certain extent, I would have agreed with you…until this weekend. Words cannot express how wonderful it made me feel to see so many students from across the state passionately present on topics they loved. Their faces would light up every time someone asked a question or showed the slightest bit of interest in their work. They talked with vigor and confidence to the point that I felt like they were 20 years older than me. I mean it honestly was like talking to an old man who spent his whole life chasing his dream. These students genuinely love what they do, and it was inspiring to see that.
After listening to their presentations, I was hopeful for the future. If these kids are the kind of individuals that I’ll be working next to in 10 years, then damn, I can’t wait for the future. They reiterated an important lesson that I’ve touched on a few times before: You need to chase your passion. Stop being scared and just do it. If you truly love it, you’ll find a way to make it work. These kids, myself included, dropped everything they had to pursue what they loved, and I’ve never seen happier people. Your life is more than just a paycheck. It’s more than just a big house and fancy car. It’s about your happiness, too. Don’t be the person that looks back on your life in 20 or 30 years wishing you had done it. Be the person that did it.