Resilience and ‘Dancing’ Through The Storms

resiliency, leadership and 'dancing' in the rain

Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass… It’s learning to dance in the rain.

Some might call this line trite or overused. However, I’ve always loved the quote. I used to think it’s because I was a dancer, but it’s actually the message about resilience that truly speaks to me. It’s a call to find beauty in the midst of adversity, to keep pushing when things feel upside down. Is it easy to live by? Certainly not. But it sure sounds pretty relevant today, right?

I don’t talk a lot about my “day job” on this blog, but I work as a communicator at Purdue University. During the past few weeks, my duties have brought me face-to-face with some incredible examples of resilience. Staff and faculty often talk about their desire to equip college students with the coping skills they will need to weather challenging times. Now, coronavirus is giving higher education an opportunity to walk the talk. It is demanding resilience in real time!

Lace Crop Top | Jean Skirt (similar) | Crossbody Bag | Hoop Earrings | Wedges 

I’ve watched with awe as educators transformed in-person classes into online instruction (and did so in just one week).  We’ve seen health and wellness program delivery move to social media platforms. Then there are the conferences and research presentations jumping to Zoom (essential video conferencing tips  in this post)… and now commencement is going virtual.

Why am I sharing this example/observation?  Well, in dark times, we could all use splash of inspiration! Watching how others “pivot” and adjust helps set us up to do the same. 

Resilience in Action: Commencement In a Box

College graduation is a right of passage, a moment students work toward for four years. What happens when social distancing puts a kibosh on commencement ceremonies? It’s a huge loss for graduates. It is irreplaceable. However, Purdue’s team didn’t give up. It got inventive, it showed resilience… and it put commencement in a box!

By tomorrow, the university will ship out nearly 7,800 packages to members of the Class of 2020 who are wrapping up their studies remotely across the U.S. and internationally. Each box will include a diploma cover, commencement program, earned honor cords/medallions, information about accessing downloadable photo backgrounds featuring iconic campus scenes, and instructions on how to participate in Purdue’s “on-demand” commencement.

I have so much admiration for the commencement team members (and the dozens of volunteers) who put their heart and soul into keeping some of the Purdue graduation experience intact for students. Commencement planners bounced ideas off a small group of graduating seniors and used their input to shape the ceremony. 

resiliency - commencement in a boxPhoto courtesy: Purdue University Commencement

Fun fact: In one day, a volunteer logged roughly 28,000 steps (about 10 miles) putting graduation kits together!

Purdue grads will have the opportunity to walk in a future ceremony, but the university wanted to help curb some of the disappointment immediately. Consequently, it is recreating all the trappings of its traditional commencement on video. There will be student speakers, an address from Purdue President Mitch Daniels, a virtual “procession” into Elliot Hall of Music, and music from Purdue Bands and the Purdue Musical Organizations.

resiliency - commencement in a boxPhoto courtesy: Purdue University Commencement

Each graduate will also hear their name announced individually (that’s where I come in). I split the long, long list of names with a colleague, but let’s just say I still spent a lot of time in an audio booth earlier this month. Usually, we have the benefit of checking phonetic pronunciations with the students before each ceremony — as you see me doing above. This year we didn’t have that luxury. We tried to reach as many students as possible via email to get a pronunciation, but couldn’t possibly reach them all. Unfortunately, we will probably botch a lot of names.

Then again, that’s the thing about resilient moments… They’re rarely perfect. The beauty rests in doing the best job you can in unpredictable situations.

Purdue will soon be launching its commencement website for students to download their ceremonies. Will it be the same as an in-person graduation? Nope. But it is a measure of commitment and caring. And when grads find that tidy little box on their porch… they’ll know it was wrapped with a lot of heart!

5 Ways to Increase Resilience

Earlier this month, the Honors College launched a video series discussing resilience. We shot it last year, but are finding it feels increasingly relevant now. Your Story Matters features students grappling with significant stressors during college (e.g. financial instability, a kidney transplant, crippling perfectionism). Their coping strategies revealed some common themes:

  • Accept that mistakes happen — Learn from them, but don’t dwell on them. Practice self-compassion.
  • Embrace change — You can’t be resilient if you refuse to change course or direction. Resiliency is all about observing and adjusting to change as it comes.
  • Ask for help — No one can go it alone! Resilient people surround themselves with a strong social network.
  • Laugh about it — A sense of humor can help you keep things in perspective, offering a bit of counterbalance during tough times.
  • Be proactive — Don’t let things pile up. Ignoring problems usually makes things worse. Figure out what you need to accomplish, make a plan, and take action bit by bit. Progress takes time.

resilience and 'dancing' through the rainLace Crop Top | Jean Skirt (similar) | Cross Body Bag | Hoop Earrings | Wedges 

About The Look

This casual spring style is all about mixing old and new. Have a classic denim skirt in your closet? Let’s freshen it up with this affordable (and stunningly detailed ) lace crop top from Chicwish. Also available in black, it has an exposed zipper on the back, making it super easy to slip on. The fabric is quality! It has no stretch, so pay close attention to the sizing guide.

Unlike many online finds, you don’t need to worry about sheerness with this piece. It really gave my high school-era denim new femininity [Seriously, I found this skirt while cleaning out my closet last week and was shocked by how modern it still feels]. Finish off your look with a bargain cross body bag and some nude wedges and you’ll be looking comfy, casual, and polished!


  1. Victoria Martin | 30th Apr 20

    You never cease to amaze me with your articles. So proud!!

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