In the last month, I had the opportunity to attend a leadership development conference for the newly elected leadership of Residence Hall Association Hall Councils, a Regional NACA conference, as well as a National Convention for NODAC. Throughout these experiences, which in and of themselves were excellent opportunities for both networking and professional development, I was able to reflect on my experiences thus far, removing myself from campus and retreat (in some cases more literally than others) into self-reflection. In the process I feel I need to both acknowledge and refocus my energy for the final weeks leading up to Thanksgiving break and the fast-approaching completion of my first semester of graduate studies. Of course I acknowledge (and willingly admit/appreciate) that I didn’t graduate and instantly become the professional I “could be,” but unsure of who will push and challenge me, I feel like I am at a stand-still. Determined not to focus on perceived stagnancy, I am compelled to acknowledge where I am and where I am going:
I need to acknowledge the trouble I am having adjusting to so much transition. I have placed myself 2,000 miles from “home” in the northeast, and all the explicit and implicit support my location has offered for the last 4 years. I graduated from RWU comfortable with the terms I left on (from an administrative sense), but with many aspects of my experience unexplored in a personal sense. I still struggle with decisions I made during my Undergraduate experience, and realize that before I can negotiate where I am going, I believe in some sense I need to find solace in where I have been. But when the support that I have long been comfortable with is out of familiar range, it offers a new set of challenges in reaching out. To complicate things further is knowing that support for my success is all around me, but that I will need to take the initiative to build a relationship, rapport, and trust; all overwhelming concepts when I acknowledge the differences in my environment, the new dynamic, and politics in play while I find someone who suits (and is willing) to play that role in my development. Thankfully I know that they are out there, and I will continue to develop the relationships and appreciate the support of my growth around me.
Which directly relates to my next point: what I believe to be one of my greatest strengths (and weaknesses) is my desire to challenge myself and improve to “do better.” I don’t consider this a form of pessimism, but rather a strong desire (and pressure) to strive to excel in areas I presently struggle; from a strengths perspective (for a means of translation), the balance of my strong sense of competition, relator, strategic, and futuristic strengths in the scope of my personal growth. In short, asking myself the question ‘how can I adjust for the future to be better, faster, smarter, more efficient, effective, and prepared for challenges I will face?’
For some, this post reaches to an oddly philosophical level beyond the original scope of this blog; my response then is simple: I hope your grad school experiences will provoke and promote growth, sometimes more directly than others, and in different forms.
I know that while not always “glamorous,” these are the steps and reflections that will better prepare me with the tools to help my students. I need to continually be willing to explore who I am to help them figure out who they are.