Why Personal Development Matters – Reflections of A College Student

In a world where student debt increasingly plays a role in the subject a student might major in, there is one topic that matters the most no matter what your major is: personal development and self-awareness. Personal development covers activities that improve awareness and identity, develop talents and potential, increase employability, enhance quality of life and contribute to the realization of dreams and aspirations.  Despite how crucial they are to success, these topics are rarely covered in our studies.  We must make time during our college years to grow our personal development and constantly seek out ways to do so. I chose my internship with the Indiana Conference for Women because I saw the opportunity to grow my own personal development.

As a current college student, I know plenty of students who lack personal development and self-awareness. They seem to believe that high scores and an outstanding GPA are enough to reach their goals in life.  Earlier this month, Inside Higher Ed conducted a study that compared the confidence levels of college students in their level of preparedness for entering the world and applying for jobs with the confidence level of employers in these same college students [1]. This article clearly shows that employers don’t have faith in recent college graduates’ ability to enter into the work force after they graduate.

Perceptions, Study. “Study Finds Big Gaps Between Student And Employer Perceptions”. N. p., 2016. Web. 21 July 2016.

The problem is the lack of personal development in our society, because people – especially students– don’t always know where to begin when it comes to developing their identity, skills and potential.  In order to be successful and to fulfill our dreams, we need to place working on developing ourselves as high on our agendas as acing a test in our studies.

One of the first things about personal development is figuring out where your identity lies. Who are you, and where you want to go in life? If you don’t know what your identity is then you won’t be able to figure out where your skill and potential lies. I figured out my identity when I took time after high school before college to think about who I wanted to be and where my passion would flourish. I would suggest grabbing a couple of helpful books and to do some traveling. Either go by yourself to think or bring a friend to help you talk through ideas, goals, and life. A person cannot simply develop personally if they can’t grasp who they really are.

I know from experience that it’s tough to figure out where your skills are in life. How exactly is someone supposed to figure out where their skills and strengths are, and how do you develop them? Everyone is born with a specific talent, the challenge is discovering it. I know that when I graduated high school, I had no clue what I wanted to do with my life and I didn’t know where to begin. The first step to discovering where your passion lies is to explore different options. You don’t want to career hop, because building good relationships is important in your professional life, but it’s good to test the waters in a few areas to figure out where you may thrive in life. Once you have gained an interest in a field,  go to school and learn more about it to see if it’s what you want to do. Originally, I thought I wanted to be a teacher, but once I started taking classes, I knew that it wasn’t for me. Taking that one step into a possible career helped me figure out where my true skills were, however, and I don’t regret any of it. There are a few other things anyone could do to figure out their strengths; ask a family or friend, or take a strengths test. A close family member or friend can easily point out where your skills are, and there are some awesome tests you can take online, like, which helps people identify their top five strengths.

There are millions of people in the world who have tremendous potential with their lives, but fail to take action. One of my mentors gave me one of the biggest compliments I’ve ever received the other day by saying, “you are going to go far in life and I can’t wait to see where life takes you.” I was beyond flattered to hear that from someone who I highly respect. There are too many people who sit at home and watch T.V., not caring what they do in life because they simply don’t care. This is the problem with America. We have too many material things and think that we can survive with food and technology alone. But these people aren’t allowing themselves to find true happiness, because they aren’t doing anything with their potential. Everyone has potential inside of them for something, and all it takes is action to accomplish something that brightens your future. Even if you don’t know where your potential is, all it takes is for you to begin somewhere and eventually you will find your way.

Your future employers are going to be able to tell if you have developed personally or not. If a twenty-one year old college student can determine if you’ve taken the time to develop personally, then I assure you that your future boss can see it too. I’ve quickly learned that the best way to figure out how to develop personally is to find a good mentor, gain experience where your skills are and put your potential to work. Elizabeth Gilbert said it perfectly, “People tend to think that happiness is a stroke of luck, something that will descend like fine weather if you’re fortunate. But happiness is the result of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly.” Personal development must become a lifelong goal. Begin today with one important step towards becoming the very best version of you.

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