It has been almost a month since I have blogged, and that feels like a REALLY long time. My internship ended, I packed up my car, and drove the six(ish) hours out in Tennessee, through Georgia, and back into Florida. I had to move all my packed up belongings and furniture out of my apartment and into the living room of the house I’m renting or my Aunt and Uncle’s garage. I spent a week at Disney with my sister, parents, and nephews, then immediately came back to move into my house. (See cute photos of me with my nephews below!)
Disney was fun… moving was not. I’ll leave it at this: the first three days consisted of me pushing around furniture, throwing away over 20 trash bags of “stuff”, and channeling my inner Cinderella as I literally scrubbed this house and every shelf. The house has never been turned over from one set of renters to the next, so I had a lot of work to do. But it’s almost done (we had some other maintenance things to take care of) and I feel proud of my mini HGTV Fixer-Uper home.
My wonderful Twitter friend Hing Potter suggested one week during an #SAGrad chat for me to write a post on my reflection of 1st year and what I look forward to in the 2nd year.
I could probably write a book on my reflections from year two and thoughts about year two, but I am going to challenge myself to keep it shorter.
I just finished week one. One week of classes and students. The week before was full of trainings. The week before was full of playing catch up. The fall semester is definitely here!
Reflection of #SAGrad Year 1
Listen, listen, listen
I was told in the beginning of grad school “the first year is to listen and the second year is to do” and I never really believed it. Yeah right, like I’m just going to sit around for an entire YEAR and listen?! HAH. But honestly… looking back I am thankful for how much I did sit back and listen. That doesn’t mean be lazy. That doesn’t mean you can’t ask questions and challenge ideas (if appropriate) and use your voice. It means to remember “you don’t know what you don’t know.” Because I spent so much time listening and asking questions and really absorbing how my organization worked, how my department worked, and how my university worked, I came back with a fresh perspective and a passion to leave my legacy. If you don’t know if you’re listening, you probably aren’t listening enough.
It won’t be what you expect it to be
I’m not here to shoot down your dreams or burst your bubble. In fact, it’s just the opposite. My first year was nothing like I expected it to be, because honestly, it was better. I could not have imagined the people I would meet, the connections I would make, or the opportunities I would be given. I never would have expected for me to feel so comfortable in the field or be so happy now that I have *finally* figured out what “work” makes me happy. So if you are a first year #SAGrad, get ready for the ride.
It’s okay to not know where you stand on issues
One challenge for me over the year was being asked my opinion on something and responding “I don’t know.” I absolutely hated that, because I felt like I should know. Well, if I knew everything, why would I be in grad school? Whether it is about materials in class or an opinion on a hot topic, it’s okay to not know where you stand. I felt inadequate if I didn’t have an answer, until I realized that it is better to admit that I didn’t know than to commit to an answer I didn’t believe. Especially in class (and with theories because sometimes they can be confusing), it is okay to say I don’t know. Disclaimer: there are a lot of concepts and ideas and questions you will be asked about that you won’t know, but it’s your responsibility to look it up or figure it out. Do your readings and your homework and your projects. I’m talking about larger issues or making connections. Use this time to challenge yourself and find out what YOU believe, not what you think you believe.
Always say hello
Whether it is to a colleague, a stranger, a student, your best friend, or the custodial staff- ALWAYS say hello. Especially in student affairs, everyone matters. Be kind. Make conversation. Don’t ignore people. Just say hello.
Feelings about #SAGrad Year 2
Wait… I still have a year of school left
Over the summer I found myself obsessing over job postings and updating my resume that I almost forgot I had an entire academic year left of school and classes before graduation. Reality check: I need to finish school so I can graduate and then be eligible for a job. Yes, job application season will be here before I know it. My opinion may change when I’m making edit after edit after edit to my cover letters and resumes, but for now, I am absolutely ecstatic for this process. All I have are hundreds of open doors and opportunities, and I cannot wait to begin figuring out where I will actually be headed next summer. As much as I hate interviewing (because I’m an anxious extrovert: a naturally awkward combination for interviews), I cannot wait to begin meeting new people (potential colleagues? future friends?) and exploring new campuses. But until that moment gets here, I need to be patient and stay focused on kicking butt in school.
Am I over committing myself?
Short answer: No. Point of concern? Definitely. Part of graduate school is figuring out real time management skills: not just classes verses Taco Tuesday or chapter meting like I had in undergrad. Now I have classes, homework, committees, teaching, internships, blogging, friends, chores, bills, house maintenance, a relationship, staying healthy, fixing my broken foot… and the list goes on. My concern isn’t about completing it all. I know I can and I know I have the time. My concern is remembering that I can do it all, and that it’s crucial for me to stick to my own deadlines and scheduling. Some days I feel more weight than others, but this year I’m going to stay focused on getting it done about worrying if it will. Because spoiler alert: I always get it all done and I’m always okay.
I can’t play the “new” card anymore
No, no I can’t. When I mess up, I admit to my mistakes. I can’t blame (whether it was internally or externally) my mistakes or lack of knowledge on being a first year grad. Now, I know my organization. I know my expectations, and in fact, they’re higher now. I know my abilities. I know how much work classes require. I know what is needed of me as a professional. And honestly, it’s scary! There is a lot of pressure to do well and I have a community that has high expectations of me. But what is cool is that I have a lot of pressure to do well and a community that has high expectations of me. I am thankful to be challenged and pushed to do better, because that means my community believes in me. They want me to grow and become even better and stronger before I graduate in April. I’m thankful my expectations are higher, because now I have to keep up my good work and do better. But humble reminder: I still am a graduate student. I still have a little bit of time left in my #SAGrad bubble.
It’s going to go by so fast
I heard it in high school and didn’t believe it, but it was true. I heard it again in college and didn’t believe it, and that was even more true. Well now I believe it, and I’m ready. I know this year will go by too quick, and it will be hooding ceremony before I know it. Although times may feel slow, I know that I will be writing my first blog from my professional job before I know it. So reminder to myself: enjoy the little moments. Enjoy the year. Because through the heavy workload and long hours, it still will be done before I know it.
Up next: I have been involved in a lot of conversations on Twitter recently regarding my love and obsession for #Wunderlist . I am drafting up my blog with tips and tricks and it should be posted this week! Keep an eye out.
Quote of the day: “You only see 10% of someone else’s life while you’re living 100% of your own.” I heard this during training, and it blew my mind. Just let that sink in for a moment next time you find yourself comparing to someone else…