It’s April which means student leadership position applications are typically due resulting in a plethora of colored paper, e-mail messages, and students dressed in their interpretations of business casual outfits for interviews. It also means long days, longer nights, and never-ending weeks during which Saturday night banquets and Sunday afternoon training sessions are the norm for many student affairs professionals.
April also brings along with it lots of rain, and with rain comes puddles. Along with these puddles comes wet shoes and soggy pant legs, resulting in either walking around the office barefoot, leaving your feet to eventually resemble a giant prune, or perhaps heading to the restroom to do the one legged balancing act of putting your foot under the hand dryer.
Think back for a moment to when you were a child and it was raining outside…did you stay in and watch movies? Perhaps you took the time to polish your Scrabble skills against anyone willing to play? Or did you go outside and jump in the puddles?
Wait, what exactly is the connection between the month, the rain, the puddles, and wet feet?
Well, they morph together to form my philosophy and attitude during one of the more stressful times of the year, both for professionals and students. Jump in puddles.
I jumped in puddles. What little kid sees a giant puddle of water and doesn’t immediately want to stomp in it to see how much of a splash they can make? A simple half-inch to an inch of water in a parking lot or yard can entertain an adventurous child for a few minutes to a few hours. The question is, why? Why when little kids see a puddle do they feel the need to jump in it and make a splash? Perhaps so they can walk proudly about with their drenched pant legs and sponge-like sneakers? Perhaps to anger the adult walking by them who had hoped to escape the scene without getting wet?
I tend to believe that it is the pure satisfaction that, for a moment, nothing else matters except for the most simple pleasures in life. It never seems to get old, they can (and will when allowed) jump from puddle to puddle to puddle without ever losing a bit of enthusiasm. It’s not reckless behavior; it is just the fun of being a kid because jumping in puddles is acceptable when you’re a kid. But since when does enjoying life’s simplest adventures cease beyond 10 years of age?
Imagine for a second that it was raining out right now and you notice there is a huge puddle in the parking lot near your car. Would the kid in you fight the urge to run through it because you’d be worried about what people thought or you’d find yourself concerned that you’d ruin your shoes or pants or dress? Why do we lose that excitement? When does it become unreasonable for an adult to, even for the slightest moment, indulge a childish urge to run through a puddle?
When supervising or advising students, particularly those who are returners or rising seniors, I tell them to never lose the excitement of jumping in a puddle. The puddle in this case could be their 3rd year serving as an Orientation Leader, or a Resident Assistant, or Information Desk worker (or all three!). They shouldn’t lose a bit of the excitement they had in their first day, week, or year on the job and neither should we.
So as you are in the midst of the April showers of applications, interviews, banquets, and trainings take some time to remember the satisfaction of jumping in a puddle. Try to revive the child-like excitement and satisfaction and let your inner-child lose at least once this April and go jump in a puddle with your students or your office (or both!). I doubt many people remember the puddles they jumped in when they were kids, but you will always remember the one time you did with your staff as a grown-up.