The Student Affairs New Professional

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Learning To Fly - Post 25

Quote of the Day:
“Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action.”
- Peter F. Drucker


Today was one of those nice, lazy days. I woke up late, stayed in bed for a while and read ("What is the What" by Dave Eggers...pretty good book so far), then had a late breakfast, called my family, read some more, watched some TV, read some more, downloaded a couple songs (legally, of course...i paid for the downloads and all), checked my e-mail, checked my Facebook, read some more. It was one of those days that is pretty nice as you're going through it but at the end of the day, you'll ask yourself, "Where did today go? What did I do all day?"

Oh yeah, I also looked at my blog from last year, when I was going through the job search. Wow, I was quite the drama queen...haha. It's really weird looking back at these posts now. I can still remember the emotional rollercoaster, but it seems so far away, like it wasn't really me who was going through all that. I have a very selective memory (I'm serious...this is the only way I can explain this)...I generally only remember the good things; or I make the mediocre things a lot better in my memory. Once they're in the past, things just don't seem that bad to me anymore. Not sure if that's a good or bad thing.

Anyway, I cracked myself up reading what I was thinking last year, especially when it came to my job offer and what I anticipated my first year at this institution to be like.
So let's do some reflecting...

1) I thought I'd have a lot more free time and that I'd have a life again.
Hmmm, not really. Haha. Maybe it's me. Maybe I'm just a hopeless workaholic. But this year was definitely a lot more stressful than I anticipated it to be. I rarely noticed that I wasn't taking classes anymore. I didn't really have time to think about it.
This job is stressful...and I know my colleagues would agree. Okay, some of them are definitely better able to find a balance and to have a life outside of work. And I know, partially, it's my own fault. I just can't turn my brain off. I'll come back to my apartment and watch some TV show but in the back of my head I'm still thinking about the job and about what I need to accomplish the next day and what I want to do differently and and and. I constantly make to-do-lists in my head. I think about different community development models. I ponder if I could have handled a situation better. I wonder how my staff is doing and if I am supporting them enough. How do you turn off your brain?
You say, I could think about different things. Yeah, I do, sometimes. I think about my friends from home, remember the fun times we had, write e-mails and read theirs finding out about what's going on in their lives...but being so far apart, I can only think about them so much. Then, I think about Harry Potter and what will happen in Book 7. I can obsess about it for hours, reading Fan Web sites, analysing various theories, coming up with my own theories, looking up paragraphs in old books to see if my theories could work, rereading the books in general, taking funny Harry Potter quizzes online and and and. But again, you can only do that for so long. So then I start thinking about the jo again....
Yeah, I know I need to learn how to have a life again. That was my goal last summer and this year. I failed. So I guess I'll have to work on that again next year.
But you know, sometimes I just really enjoy spending time with my students (RAs or RHA or even some of my residents) so much more than hanging out with other professional staff members (and I don't really know anyone who doesn't work here, so it's either them or my students), ...
I don't know. It's just not that easy. But I'll work on it, I promise.

2) I thought I'd fit in well with the staff here and make some good friends.
Hmmm, again, didn't really happen. I guess first impressions from a one-day campus interview don't tell you everything...haha...big surprise.
There's a few amazing individuals I've met and that I really enjoy spending time with. But not that many. And there's definitely been a lot of times when I felt pretty lonely and isolated. I just didn't feel like I fit in with many of the other staff members. I wasn't really interested in spending my time with the things they were doing. Okay, I probably also didn't make the best effort at reaching out to others and asking them to hang out; and in terms I wasn't often asked to come along. But then again, sometimes I just enjoyed spending time with my staff and students much more than hanging out with other professional staff.
Oh well, there'll be a lot of new staff members next year...maybe I'll find some friends then...and at least, one of the staff members I really enjoyed hanging out with is staying in the area (even though she won't be working here)...so hopefully we'll get to hang out next year.

3) I was so excited about working here and thought that I had found a school that fit my values and beliefs perfectly.
Well, perfect was maybe a little too much to ask for. There's a lot of things I like about working here. There is a lot of things I like about how we do things in this department. But there's also lots of things I don't like. Mostly, the politics in our department.
You know, I'm really starting to think that there isn't a "perfect" department out there for me. I don't think I'll ever like absolutely everything about a place I'll be working at. The question is just how much do I have to like about a place to be able to work there successfully and to be happy...
And there's enough here to make me feel like I can do that...at least for another year or two. As long as I have the opportunity to work with my student leaders and try some new things, I'll be okay.

Alright, enough rambling for today.

But here are some coming attractions... ;)
- setting goals for the summer (I did that last year and while I wasn't that successful at accomplishing all of them, it did help a little)
- reflecting upon what I've learned in my first year as a new professional (this seems to be the new question everyone's asking me)
- setting goals for next year, my second year as a new professional

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