Learning Self-Compassion with UVic Bounce
As a university student, you face a lot of big decisions, challenges, and a roller coaster ride of emotions. It can feel pretty isolating trying to navigate these tricky new waters of adulthood and independence.
It sometimes seems like everyone has their life together but you. However, I promise you this is not the case. It’s important to remember that there are people on your side who are ready to help when life and school feels like too much, and some of those people are your professors.
UVic Bounce is a project created by Professor Rebecca Gagan, focusing on bridging the gap between students and faculty in order to facilitate support for students and to encourage resilience and compassion.
Bounce began as a series of videos featuring professors from various departments discussing the challenges they faced when they were students and what they learned from their experiences. In light of COVID-19, Bounce shifted to a podcast format and the podcast series Waving, Not Drowning was created.
Since January of 2021, I have been a part of the Bounce team, working alongside Professor Gagan, undergraduate Psychology student Adaezejeso Ezeaku, and MA English student Deborah Ogilvie. Together, we have worked to build the Bounce podcast.
Deb is the communications assistant, focusing on the podcast’s social media, advertising, and much more. Adaezejeso is a student ambassador, representing the voices of the students for Bounce by filming weekly videos for Instagram. She works in collaboration with faculty and staff to help create relatable content. Finally, I do the behind-the-scenes tech work for the podcast, like audio editing, sound mixing, and formatting.
Having the opportunity to work on a project like Bounce, especially under these unusual global circumstances, has been about more than just putting together a podcast.
So much of our work and discussions have been focused on the needs and experiences of those in the UVic community. It has really opened my eyes to the value of being open about the challenges we face. We don’t need to be ashamed or embarrassed by what we’re struggling with, not just as students, but as people.
For Deb, Bounce’s focus on de-stigmatizing conversations about times you didn’t feel like you succeeded has been a source of reflection and comfort.
“Hearing the people in authority positions – instructors, professors, deans, the university president – reveal and reflect on their own struggles acknowledges that we’re all human. It starts to create some room to accept and honour our own struggles, and I think it changes the parameters of what ‘success’ means,” says Deb. “The podcast provides an opportunity for students to see their professors as people who have been through a lot of the same stuff, and for conversations about struggle to be normalized”.
Adaezejeso points to how relatable a lot of the professors’ stories were, and the empowerment she felt in hearing how they overcame their own challenges.
“Personally, I viewed it as one of the ways Rebecca empowered me as an individual. I got interested when I realized that all the people on the Bounce videos were persons who had dealt with immensely difficult life circumstances and triumphed despite those obstacles,” says Adaezejeso.
“I remember saying to Professor Rebecca that one of the reasons I got interested and excited about UVic Bounce was that they all talked about their failures and I thought it was such a beautiful thing. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good inspiring story of success from nothing, but I loved how it felt normal to talk about their failures and how that in itself was the victory because they live with some of those failures but are thriving exceedingly because of it”.
All three of us have faced challenges in our student careers, but there has been something very empowering and unifying about being part of a project that is working towards adding compassion, understanding, and kindness to the university environment.
I asked my team members what Bounce’s mission means to them, and I think the variations in our answers really captures that no student’s needs and struggles are the same as any other student’s, but every student has struggles and needs.
“Bounce emphasizes that we’re humans before we’re whatever role we’re filling at the time – students or professors or parents or employees, and if that’s the foundation from which we’re all working, then everyone is going to be healthier, happier, and more resilient when the difficult stuff inevitably comes up,” says Deb. “I would say the goal is to promote a cultural shift at the university, where our humanity and all that it entails is recognized and respected”.
Adaezejeso says, “I would summarize Bounce’s mission to be to normalize and celebrate the beauty in our failures and to recognize that they are necessary in our journey of becoming. I hope students are able to know that it is all a process and to remember to be kind to themselves”.
To me, Bounce serves as a reminder that we’re in university to learn academically, but we also unavoidably end up learning about life as well. And sometimes, that can be stressful combination of lessons. Professors’ stories remind me that it’s okay to reach out for help, and it’s okay when not everything comes easily. As Deb and Adaezejeso have already put it, we’re all human and it’s important to be patient with yourself in this dynamic period of your life.