Over the last several weeks I have been reading a lot of leadership, assessment, management, counseling, and diversity driven literature through my classwork. I suppose the only comment I am really comfortable with as I reflect on all of the material in my current context as a developing student affairs professional is that I’m not comfortable. I am extremely critical of myself in seeking out areas in which I can improve, often revisiting situations and contemplating how I could have changed my approach, my tone, or my demeanor- or even more basic, how I contributed to a group dynamic or unknowingly impacted it in a negative way.
Needless to say, I am finding that I am constantly torn between “I love this material” and “Wow, I wish I could have improved upon that,” or “I have a lot to learn,” or “Why can’t I be headed in this direction?” Ironically, after some basic Student Development Theory and regular reinforcement through both my classwork, my grad assistantship, and my personal life, I’m able to place the terminology on this process and the disparities- or further, to recognize “what might be up next.”
Don’t get me wrong, that’s a really exciting thing to be able to think about. The progress that (in many ways) I was frustrated that wasn’t occurring in my first semester of grad school is now in the fast lane, giving me just enough perspective and insight to look in my rear-view mirror both at my graduate experience and undergrad to say “what was I thinking?!”
There is a guilt to the things I could have done, the approach I wished I had taken, and what I would change. Perhaps worse, I have a new sense of presence in my current role within my Department, my cohort, and my peer groups to question what I have (or haven’t been) contributing and what that illuminates as areas for personal and professional growth.
In some ways, I feel like I’ve been given a map and a candle- just enough to have a sense of what I need to work on, unsure if I have what I need to make it to where I want (or where I think I want) to go, and finding that all I can do is trust “the process” of self-reflection, good habits, and ultimately (through this reflection) offer more trust, patience, in exchange for so much of the control I have exerted over so much of myself up until now.
Overall, I think it’s opened up the opportunity for me to define what 2011 in a word will mean for me: Explore.