The title of this post references a reflection from about this time last year, and ironically draws upon many of the same ideas from a new perspective. Click to read “Acknowledging Progress.”
The second year of graduate school feels different. Even amongst all kinds of new challenges, opportunities, and perspective, something even more significant stands out as I reflect on the year so far. Sure, I feel more comfortable with the demands and expectations of my professors. Of course, I am more comfortable in my surroundings and recognize my role in context.
But beyond these things, internal or external, something feels different. Some may describe the evolution of an external voice bridged and developing internally, others will attribute my locus of control becoming more clear, and those trained in student development theory will point to a new sense of making meaning of my experiences. And while I can’t always articulate what these differences feel like, I can emphatically say that I’ve changed over the last year. I question my own approach less, I trust my instincts more, and I recognize the areas where I face the greatest challenges and incongruence.
Most importantly, however, is that I am becoming more comfortable with my role as a synthesizer and conduit of knowledge to both understand it more deeply, and “teach” others. While I still recognize that I have a lot (emphasis on lot) to learn both about myself, my craft, this field, and life in general, I have come a long way in this arena in particular. In fact, my post from last year around this time describes my point of view perfectly.
Amidst my first course in Student Development Theory almost a year ago exactly, I presented to a group at NODAC on Learning Outcomes immediately following Dr. Komives’ keynote expressing their critical importance- no pressure, right? The room was packed. I was beyond nervous- beyond lacking in confidence. Sure, I was able to articulate the appropriate student development theories and pulled their themes into our presentation for application. But standing in front of professionals who have practiced as long as I have been alive, “Who am I to say I know anything, I thought.” And the feedback I received after the session reflected my lack of confidence. In the true spirit of student affairs, much of it was constructive, and at the gentle debrief of my supervisor (and co-presenter), I lived to reflect on the experience– and looking back, the story bears credence to the “where I was” conversation I referenced above.
Thankfully, I find that often just when I might otherwise lose perspective on where I am in life and where I’m going, moments like these bring me back to earth. Since, I have felt the pressure and internal push to challenge my impressions of what and how I view myself over the last year. I have recognized and acknowledged my role as a student for some, a teacher for others, and a learner always. The move from positional knowledge to foundation and more relative attributions of learning is more and more becoming the norm.
I would close with a moral, or even more insight on my development from here on. But the truth is, I’m where I’m at for the moment, and I’m spending more time appreciating that notion.