July is a time of preparation and training. Training new professionals in new work environments and taking [bitter] returning professionals along for the ride. Preparations for student staff to arrive back on campus for training and/or for help in preparing for month of August and everything that it requires. There is so much going on and so little time, it seems. Where did the end of May and all of June go? Oh, yeah, I took a two-week vacation. Having a significant amount of work to do and preparations to make and trainings to sit through has not prevented my mind from wandering and it has been pondering what could be considered an important question. Why am I in student affairs and who am I as a professional?
A part of this has stemmed from recent professional staff training where entire blocks of the training schedule are dedicated to team builders, socials, or training sessions where less than 5% of the information is new. As a residence life staff are notorious for being the positive, ice breakers every second there is a pause, and wanting to work with people because they’re so extroverted type. That, in my experience, has been true over 70% of the time. Alas, I am not. I am a realist. Icebreakers are abominations. After two bouts of small-talk I need a nap. I’ve been thinking. Is this for me?
I have already considered whether I am jumping to conclusions based on what is a minute amount of annoyances, but I have over two years of professional experience within the same job and no matter how many supervisors I have had (4-5) and staff’s I have supervised (3rd completely different one starting soon) my perspective on these activities or on my style have not altered very much. Why did I want to be a student affairs professional? Do I still have that same drive now? As I was contemplating this I texted a dear friend asking a simple question: Do you think I make a good student affairs professional? Earmuffs, kids, but she said “Absolfuckinglootly no doubt!!”
When further pressed, she expanded her statement to “I think you are because you have drive to make student and staff experiences different. You try and make a clear path for systems and structures. You are a strong mentor and leader. Your supervision skills have developed providing purpose and guidance. Through your work without full acknowledgement of students you make a large impact on their navigation through the system.” Thanks Edna Murrieta!
Existential crisis avert . . . let’s be honest; it was only delayed.