Enhance Your Seminary Experience

I was speaking to a girl in seminary now and she was describing how much harder the transition was for her than she ever expected. Feelings of overwhelm, loneliness, insecurity, self-consciousness, FOMO of other friends having a better time than her, thoughts of I’m not normal, everyone else is adjusting better than me, it’s hard to make new friends, and the added stress of making shabbos plans were all adding up in the beginning.

It became clear to me that if girls heading to seminary had some tools to be able to handle the challenges and opportunities that arise, it would make for an easier transition. I got a group of 12th graders together last night with the intention of sharing a taste of how these tools can be helpful.

We did some riddles and exercises to show them how easy it is to fall into assumptions without giving it any thought: I’m not that type, That type of girl goes to that seminary, it’s so not for me, It’s better to go away with high school friends, it’s better to start fresh. 

These assumptions innocently keep us boxed in and limited, but it doesn’t seem to us that Thought has anything to do with it. We talked about limiting beliefs and habits of thought like self-conscious thinking, expectations, judgments and how these also keep us boxed in.

There is another accepted assumption that many people live with and never think to challenge: that the circumstances of our lives (ex.: being away from home, starting fresh and adjusting to a new country) are the causes of the feelings we have. But what if the assumption is wrong? What if the feelings are coming from someplace else and you don’t have to feel like a victim of circumstances? 

You can spend so much time blaming, complaining or ruminating about what seems to be the cause of your discomfort (new roommates, missing home, work overload, not connecting to the girls, gaining weight). The truth is when you focus in that direction, you get SO MUCH MORE thinking about your situation which makes it worse.

What if focusing on the true cause of your feelings would give you more energy, time and freedom to flow with life and bounce back from the bumps, moods and frustrations more easily?

The goal of this series is to share with them tools to help ease their transition, help them understand the role thought plays in their experience and give them the confidence that they can handle any thoughts and feelings that may arise because they are innately resilient. This will free them up to be present to what Hashem has in store for them and to perceive situations as opportunities rather than insurmountable challenges. 

If you are interested in hosting a series for 12th graders in your home, school or area, please contact me at aviva@avivabarnett.com.

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By Aviva Barnett, MSW



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