The Student Affairs New Professional

Friday, January 26, 2007

Learning to Fly - Post 14

Quote of the Day:
"Be the change you want to see in the world."
- Mahatma Gandhi

Thanks for the comments. I really appreciate them. And it helps so much to hear that I'm not the only going through all this...

But today, I have a little story for you...

So I've told you that I was superanxious about my placement for next year. I just really really wanted this one living learning just felt like the right place for me, you know.
Well, this Monday, central staff met to discuss and decide our placements. But then we of course still had to wait for the letters.
I somehow managed to get through Monday night and even got so distracted with work (reading through RA Candidate files since selection was today, Friday) that I totally forgot about it on Tuesday. Until we had our team meeting and our coordinator told us that the placement letters had been delayed but should be in our mailboxes Wednesday morning. She also asked us, if we wanted her to e-mail us as soon as the letters were in the mailboxes. Well, I'm sure you can imagine what my answer was...

But here's where "crazy Me" started to come out again. My coordinator had looked kind of serious when she asked whether I wanted her to e-mail me when the letters came out or not. But then, when I said yes really really quickly, she kind of laughed. So what did that mean? Was she that serious because she knew I'd be disappointed when I got my letter? Or did the laugh mean that I had gotten my first choice? What did it mean?
I continued to obsess for the rest of the night. I couldn't fall asleep until 3 AM. No wonder I was exhausted when my alarm clock rang at 7:30 AM. I got up and dragged myself to the office. The first thing I did was check my e-mail. I didn't really expect the letters to be there yet...but it didn't hurt to check. No, no e-mail from my coordinator.

I had a meeting with my graduate assistant to discuss RA Candidates. Throughout the meeting, I kept glancing at my computer to see if I'd gotten any new e-mails. Whenever I heard the sound that tells me that I've got new mail, I broke off in mid-sentence and checked really quickly what it was.
Still nothing at 10 AM. I couldn't sit still anymore. Fortunately, I had another talk about publicity for the Tunnel of Oppression. So I went there; we worked for a little while; but then were done early. I had a meeting with my RHA Co-Advisor, one of the coordinators, at 11 AM in the central office. I didn't want to be too early...what if the letters weren't in yet? I'd be all jumpy and nervous and I really didn't need the central staff to see me like that. I went to the bathroom before the meeting and just took my time. I stared in the mirror, fixed my hair (not that I managed to make it look any better), practiced my poker face for when I'd open the letter, ....
Almost 11 AM. I took a deep breath and went into the office. Still nothing. I had the meeting with my RHA Co-Advisor. He just also happens to be the coordinator of the living learning community (LLC) I was trying to get. That didn't help. Throughout the whole meeting, all I kept thinking was, "Did I get it?" He my head I'm going "Does that mean I got my LLC?"
It's really hard to form a coherent sentence when in your head you're obsessing about every move and facial expression of the other person; trying to read what it means. Good news? Bad news?

The meeting was over. Still nothing. What was going on? Where they trying to torture me???
My hands start shaking when I get really nervous (I used to play piano and I'd get terrible stagefright...let me tell you, it's not easy to play piano when your hands are shaking...I also get that nervous twitch in my right foot. Very weird!). Well, my foot wasn't twitching yet, but I had to push my hands all the way down in the pockets of my jacket to stop them from shaking.

I dragged myself back to my office. I'd much rather just camped out right in front of the mailboxes, but that would have looked a little awkward, don't you think?
I tried to distract myself. It didn't work. The next hour and a half is a blur. I don't really remember if I had anything for lunch. I must have eaten something...not sure. I tried to prepare for my Career Development course that I'm teaching (at 2 PM, Mondays & Wednesdays). I would be typing up a quick outline for the course. The next thing I remember is I was sitting there staring out the window. What happened? What was I doing there? I had to force myself to look back at the computer screen and continue working. My e-mail (Eudora) checks itself every few minutes...I couldn't wait that long. I kept checking the mail. Why hadn't my coordinator e-mailed me yet? What were they playin' at?

A new IM window pops up.
"Go check your mail."
It's one of my colleagues and friends.
"The letters are in. We just got an e-mail."
I checked my mail. How could I have missed that? No, I didn't have an e-mail yet? Was anything wrong with my e-mail? I checked again. There, a new mail. Oh yes, that was it...
It just said "The Placement letters are in."

I check the time. It's 1:30 PM. I have class at 2 PM. I haven't finished my class outline yet (fortunately, I'll have a guest speaker but I should have gone over some assignments and reminders). I really had to finish that first. My mind had gone blank. I couldn't think...
Like a robot, I continued what I was doing.

The phone rang.
"Are you rushing over there yet?"
Another one of my colleagues and friends. Maybe I shouldn't have told them all how much I wanted that community. If I didn't get it, they'll all be sad for me and supportive...and it'd only make me feel more awful.
"I need to finish my stuff for class, but then I'm running over."
"Okay. I'm going to let you go then."

Yes, done! I hit print, grab my bag, throw the class outline in it, put on a coat...and off we go.
I rush over to the office. I have to stop myself from running; I don't want to be totally out of breath when I get there.
There I am. The entrance to the office. I take a deep breath. I rush down the corridor. My coordinator is sitting in her office. I look down and go straight to the mailboxes...there's some flyers...and here's the letter. I grab it. I turn around, not looking up. I rush down the hallway, avoiding eye contact at all cost as I'm passing people's offices.
I'm outside. My hands are now definitely shaking. I can barely open the envelope. I pull out the letter. I hesitate for a second. This is it! I take a deep breath and...
Suddenly, I have tears in my eyes. My hands are still shaking. I almost drop the letter. I just stand there, staring at those two words...."congratulations...leadership." Does it really mean what I think it means? I can't grasp it.

Shoot, I have class in a few minutes. Still clasping the letter firmly in both hands, I start walking again. I read as I'm walking. "Tentatively housed in [Building Name]...blah blah preparation dates...blah blah blah..." I'll read it later. I go back to the first sentence. Is it true?

Somehow I made it to class that day. I was even a few minutes early. Enough to call my friend and leave her a slightly incoherent but extremely happy voicemail.

Class starts. Yay for guest speakers! I don't know how I would have made it through class otherwise.
I was sitting at the side, my class notes in front of me...right nex to the letter. Every few minutes, I looked over...just to check...yes, it was still there. Was I dreaming? Did it really mean what I thought? Or was I reading the letter wrong? I checked again. No, there it was.

I don't think I've really grasped it yet. People keep congratulating me (not like I really did anything...I just, for once, was lucky and got my preference); friends keep calling; colleagues asking where I'm at and what I think about it. I give the standards answers, "I'm so excited." "Yeah, I'm so happy." "It's gonna be great." But those words just don't describe how I feel. No words could.
It's like this feeling, this happiness or whatever you want to call it, is so big that I can't feel it all at once. I just feel numb. I can't believe it's true. I'm really going to be working with this community next year.

I mean I've been loving my job this year. Yeah, there's stressful times; there's problems with staff members; there's loud noise in my corridor that keeps me up at night; there's frustrations about not accomplishing anything in pointless meetings about my current living learning community; there's disagreements with colleagues; and and and. But overall, I love it.
Can you imagine how much more amazing it'll be next year when I'll have a living learning community that I'm actually passionate about???

These past few days have, once again, been just a blur. Randomly, some idea for next year will come to my mind...I grab the next piece of paper or post-it note and write it down. Every once in a while, I still question if this is really true. So I've been carrying the letter around with me...just so I can know, just to make sure.

Wow, writing this has been so weird. It's like, now it's really true because I'm posting it on this Blog.

There's only one little black cloud in this whole blue sky (okay, this was the worst metaphor ever but I think I'm much more creative when I'm depressed...maybe that's why most genuises had an awful life...):
Not everyone's been happy with their placements. And I feel like I can't celebrate and be excited in front of some people, because I don't want to make them feel worse. I know, two years (in grad school) when I didn't get any of my preferences for placement, I was seriously bitter. And anyone else being happy about their placement only made me more bitter because I kept questioning why they got their choice and I didn't. What had I done wrong? I felt awful. I don't want to make anyone feel like that.
But I also can't help smiling right now. I want to jump up and down. I want to laugh and scream. I want to do cartwheels.
Instead, I try to do the professinal thing...answer short and brief when asked about placement...acknowledge my excitement but wait for the "dance of joy" till I get back to the solitude of my apartment. But there, I have to admit, I did a little dance and jumped up and down a couple times.

I still can't believe it...

Monday, January 22, 2007

Learning to Fly - Post 13

Quote of the Day:
"Reality is wrong. Dreams are for real."
- Tupac Shakur's been a while. It feels like winter break was forever ago and I'm already ready for another break. This semester has been busy, even though not as stressful as last semester was. I definitely have a lot more free time...I'm just not sure what to do with myself. I haven't really found that group of friends here yet. All my friends from grad school and undergrad are far away. I'm as always single. So the people I spend the most time with are my RAs and RHA students, but that doesn't always work either since I am their supervisor and just can't tag along for certain things...and I wouldn't want to be that creepy hall director who follows her RAs everywhere. So yeah, it tends to get a little lonely around here.
I've spent my days reading (from Jane Austein's Pride & Prejudice, to the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants - all four books now - and Eragon). The problem with me and reading is that I get too sucked into my books and then I stay up too late and am tired the next day at work. And as much as I love my books and could spend days or even weeks just lying on my bed reading, sometimes I do need some human interaction.
I know partially it's my own fault. I'm a workaholic...not just a regular workaholic but totally to the extreme. I love my job and I care about my that's all I do. Even when I'm at home, I think about what I could do at work the next day or fun things I could do with my students. I read Student Affairs literature. I make elaborate door decorations for my staff. And and and.
And now, one semester into the new job in a new state - far away from my friends - I'm starting to realize that I kind of missed my opportunity to make new friends. By now, everyone else seems to have these set groups of friends, and while I get to tag along for all-staff outings or birthday parties, I'm not really invited for the small, more intimate gatherings. I just get to hear about them the next day.
It doesn't help that I don't drink either. I honestly have nothing against drinking (well, I hate when people drink too much or drunk driving and these things...but if you want to have a couple drinks - Hey, go for it!) but for some reason people seem to be uncomfortable around me because I don't drink. At least that's the impression I'm getting.
It's kind of ironic because I used to be the "party girl." I remember one year, when I was Orientation Leader, I was called into the office of my supervisor because she was worried about me going out too much. Apparently I needed to be more awake during training sessions and a better role model for my colleagues as well as the first-year students. But I always believed that since I didn't drink and didn't do anything really stupid, I was role modeling how to have fun without being under the influence of alcohol. And I think that's a pretty cool thing to role-model. Well, sometimes I feel like I'm the only one who thinks so.
I just don't get friends from high school never care if I drink or not. They actually love it because it means that I can be the designated driver and they don't have to worry about anything. And they know me...I'll do stupid things with them even when I'm sober. To be honst, I act a lot more stupid when I am sober because I'm not worried about how the alcohol is affecting my judgement.

Okay, how did I get started on this topic again? Oh yeah, I've been a little lonely lately.
*Sigh.* Life will go one, right?

I'm also terribly anxious right now. We just had to hand in our letters of intent and our learning community preferences. And today, the central staff decided which building we'll be in. And I really really really want to be in a different learning community next year. I mean, there's just one that totally fits my personality, my values, my professional's just PERFECT.
I've been trying really hard not to get too attached, so that I wouldn't be too disappointed. But let's be honest, if I don't get it, I'm gonna be crushed.
I mean, I had to go through this whole internal placement process for my second year of grad school. We had to rank the eight or nine options there were for grad students, and then write a two-page explanation why we wanted to be in these areas. I put so much time and effort into it...because to be honest, there was one area I just really really really didn't want to get stuck in. I ranked that one as my last choice and even explained in the letter why I didn't want to be there. And guess what happened...I got that one of course. And it was horrible. I was miserable all year. And when your job's your life, it sucks when you're unhappy at your job, you know.
I think that experience scarred me for life. I'm seriously terrified now. I just feel like I'm not going to get what I want and I'm going to be destroyed. Or maybe I'm just trying to tell myself that I won't get what I want, so I won't get my hopes up. But I know, subconsciously, I'm still hoping for that specific learning community. Does that make any sense?

Why am I such a drama queen? And why do I take things so to heart? This should just be a job, right? But it's's so much more!!!

AHHHH, I'm going to drive myself crazy.

Keep your fingers crossed for me.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Tryin' to Get Paid-Post 10

Post 10 from Tryin' to Get Paid

Mood: It's too damn cold...
Music: John Legend "Save Room"
How's Arsenal Doing?: 4th place in F.A. Premiership (23 fixtures played, 42 points)

It's been a while, but I've been on holiday. And, since today is MLK Day, I'm on holiday again. I should be the responsible person and spend my day thankful for the many blessings Dr. King gave me, my family, and my future children, but I have to spend much of my day digging out. We recieved 5 inches of snow on top of 1/4 inch of ice, so driving is pretty dangerous. You know, I have a colleague who's working at a campus in California, just 5 minutes away from the beach, and 30 minutes from L.A. I'm just 6 steps away from a 5 foot snowdrift...granted if I can take 6 steps in this snow. I've never been so jealous in my life.

Since the spring semester doesn't start for another two weeks, I've spent most of my time catching up on the ever-important paperwork and trying to find additional funding sources for my cultural organizations. Beyond that, I have never surfed the internet more in my life. In fact, I HATE the internet now, because there's nothing good out there except junk. But, I found the new car I want (2007 Nissan Altima with and intelligent-key remote start) and I know how long it will take to get it. Just another 8 month of eating mac and cheese, and I'll be rollin' in style...

Well, the internet beckons me for more useless searching...until next time...

Friday, January 05, 2007

Learning to Fly - Post 12

Quote of the Day:
"Sisterhood is the essense of all the wisdom of the ages, distilled into a single word. You cannot see sisterhood, neither can you hear it nor taste it. But youc an feel it a hundred times a day. It's someone to share with, to celebrate your achievements."
- Anonymous

Hello and welcome back!
I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season and a relaxing break.

I closed my building on Dec. 15th, so I've spent the past couple of weeks doing absolutely nothing and loving it. I actually stayed in my building all through break - and no, you don't have to feel sorry for me for spending the holiday season alone because I had the best time of my life. I would wake up in the late morning, stay in bed and read until I got hungry, then make a quick breakfast, move to the living room, read some more, maybe watch some TV in the afternoon or early evening, write some e-mails to friends, practice playing the piano for half an hour or so, maybe go running or do some dance exercise tape (I always get ambitious over break to stay in soon as work starts again though I'm very quick to drop that) followed by a nice long shower, eventually crawl into bed and read some more until I would fall asleep. It was WONDERFUL!

Now I'm back at work. Our buildings actually opened on January 2nd for sorority recruitment. That means, the female residents who are interested in sororities come back to attend a variety of Open Houses with various sororities. After the Open Houses (where they have to visit all sororities), they are invited back to First Round Interviews for a few sororities. Then it goes on to Second Round Interviews, etc.
So I've been having over 50 residents in my building already, even though we don't officially open until Sunday. One of my RAs came on Jan. 1st to help me with sorority recruitment (basically be on duty at night) and the rest of them returned yesterday or today. We had some training today; we're doing "fun stuff" tomorrow; more training on Sunday and then it's "BACK TO REALITY."

But let's chat a little bit more about this sorority recruitment business. Tonight, the first cuts happened. The women going through the process received their schedules for this weekend, which told them what sororities invited them back. The residents in my building are split into three groups, each one led by a "Greek Life Guide" (a current sorority member). So tonight, they were waiting in the lounges of my buildings for their Greek Life Guide to show up and hand them their schedules. And of course afterwards, there was an "explosion" of feelings and emotions - some of them were invited back to all the ones they wanted and are exstatic right now; others didn't get the ones they wanted and are close to tears; some got 12 interviews and are stressed over having to do so many; while others got only 4 or 5 and feel like they aren't as good as their friends.

As staff, we've been told that there is a sorority for everyone and that in the end, almost all students will get into one long as they keep an open mind. And I'm sure it will work out for my residents...and even if they don't get the sorority they want, they'll find a way to deal with it and maybe explore other leadership opportunities on campus...but it seems like a really nerve-racking and cruel process. Never having worked with Greek Life and not having been affiliated to any Greek organizations myself, I am struggling to find ways to support my residents. It's one of those things where, when you haven't experienced it yourself, it's challenging to relate and to know what to say. I'm sure Greek Life here is doing everything they can to make the process as pleasant for the women as possible...but it's just so sad to see them all upset over having been cut after the Open House or because of not having received as many invites as their roommate or best friend.

And I have to admit, it was one of those things I was entirely unprepared for. Yeah, I knew this school had a much bigger and prominent Greek Life community than any school I've worked at before. But I didn't know what that really meant...and how that'd affect me.

Well, let's keep our fingers crossed that we make it through sorority recruitment without too many tears.