I’ve always been the person who says, “If you’re going to have a blog – make sure you update it regularly … keep your readers engaged!” Although offering the advice, I clearly haven’t been the person who follows that statement. I love reading blogs, especially ones that offer great life stories and yet teach you great things at the same time (Two of my current favorites, whose posts I never miss: Kimmi Sterner- The Fortunate Life, and Gary Baker- Between Mouth and Mind). The two of them make me feel like I should really be updating my blog with all of my life lessons – but, I haven’t. Until Now.
The past two years have been a total whirlwind of educational lessons, life lessons, fun and personal development – and did I mention FUN?! I learned more about myself in these past two years of grad school, and working at a University than I have in my total 27 years of existence (okay, maybe that’s stretching it a little .. but, honestly, sometimes it feels that way).
My blog posts in the past have been fairly structured – more “here’s what happened today” instead of “here’s what I think other people could learn from my life” – which is going to change .. now.
Two and half years ago I walked into a classroom at Rowan University with the expectation that I would take some classes, earn my M.A in Higher Education Administration, find a job at a University working with students and BOOM! – life would be perfect. In reality, that was just the base of what I was about to experience. Life had some extra learning moments in store for me and right here, right now, I’m going to share my top 5 of those with you. Hopefully they help someone else out!
1. Be prepared for change – ALWAYS.
I worked professionally for just about three years in the field of PR before going back to school. When I was offered my assistantship and started working in the Student Center, I was working in the office the same way I was working in the firm. I kept thinking things had to be short, sweet and to the point. WRONG. I learned as I continued on that although there are DEFINITELY deadlines in higher ed, it’s more “all about the story” than strictly PR. Higher Ed is all about telling your story, inspiring people with your story & inspiring them to create their own story to be able to learn and grow from. I had to work hard to change my thought process and be successful where I was working, and it wasn’t always easy – but I got there … which brings me to my second lesson.
2. It’s not always easy, but it’s always worth it.
There were so many moments over the last two and a half years that I thought I was just going to fall apart. Returning back to school after a three-year hiatus was difficult, writing papers in APA as opposed to MLA was NOT FUN, working in a totally different field & with people who worked differently than I did proved to be a major challenge at times and it was definitely NOT always easy. But let’s be honest here. What in life is always easy? Those moments that made me feel broken down, totally lost and unsure of myself made me who I am today. The best part – none of those moments killed me! Each of those moments that made my brain feel like mush (yup, technical term) helped me learn more about myself and how to develop as a person, a student and a supervisor … and despite the momentary feeling of “lost”, I got through it all and am a better person for it.
3. For every moment that breaks you down, there are three that will build you back up.
Just as in any job there will be days that exhaust you! You will have had one too many meetings. Your phone rang way too much. People asked you the same things over and over again. Deadlines approach way too quickly. Departments have endless questions about events. Someone spoke to you the wrong way and was way too rude. Your to-do list just keeps growing. You’re stressed out. No one likes those days. But something I’ve realized and will continue to focus on is that the beauty of higher ed is, if you do your job right, you’re positively impacting so many people around you. Because of one of those repetitive questions you answered, or an event you helped plan, you made someone else’s day. Whether it’s a parent, a student, a co-worker, a staff member, or a department head … someone else is walking away, smiling, because you helped them. That makes it all worth it. I’ve had some pretty crappy days, where out of nowhere I get a thank you from someone for helping make their life easier – and, honestly, it turns my day around. Remember that when people ask for help. Just because you’re having a rough day doesn’t mean you need to make someone else miserable. Smile, help someone out and positive karma will come back and help you out … always.
4. Show your gratitude.
I’m not talking about saying thanks when someone lets you borrow their pen (although .. you should do that too). Hear me out. Over the last two years, I have come in contact with some pretty phenomenal people. Professionals from other universities who were / are willing to help me with my resume and building my cover letter, and offering advice on staff trainings and social media strategies as well as introducing me to other connections. I have met with and spoken with higher education professionals both at Rowan and outside of Rowan who agreed to just let me pick their brain for an hour about their journey through higher ed. My supervisors at Rowan offered me endless advice, continuous training and amazing opportunities – all of which I was lucky to get. What do I mean by show your gratitude? Stay in touch with the people who were / are willing to help, let them know how grateful you are, continue to learn from them and pass on the advice you’ve been given. The world would be a much better place if we all just showed everyone the gratitude they deserved.
5. Welcome the “learning moments”.
This was a big one for me over the last two years. There were SO MANY learning moments. In classes, at work, in my personal life – I’m fairly certain that the universe decided that since I decided to go back to school, I needed to learn lots of things about every aspect of my life. Friendships became rocky, love was lost (we won’t get into that), new relationships were formed – some lasted and some didn’t, financial issues presented themselves, momentary lapses of brilliance happened in the classroom (For those of you who know me well, I know it’s tough to believe … but yes, it happened to me… HA!), supervisory skills were tested, and at times the way I reacted to situations was questioned. I learned lots of lessons. I learned that just because you feel a certain way about something doesn’t mean someone else has to feel the same way … and just because they don’t feel the same way, it doesn’t make them wrong. It means you need to listen, because there’s probably something you can take away from it. I learned that people will come into your life, some will stay and some will go … but not to worry about the ones who go, because if they were meant to be there, they’d be there – or they’ll come back in time. I learned that just because someone is treating you poorly, it doesn’t mean you’ve necessarily done something wrong – but, instead, that they have other things going on in their life … so, to take it with a grain of salt, allow it to make you stronger, learn from it and move on. The biggest lesson on “learning moments” that I learned is that they present themselves whenever you allow them to. Every single moment in your life can be a learning moment, if you allow it to be – so welcome them and make the most out of them.
As I’m sitting here, typing this (taking a break from submitting endless job applications), I realize there are SO many more lessons I have learned over the last 2 years, but I figured this was a good “umbrella” list for all of them.
Spark Notes Version :
Embrace the people that surround you and the lessons they are willing to teach (or, the ones you learn from them). You may hit some rough patches along the way, but it’s nothing you can’t get through. Help people out and they’ll be willing to help you. Smile, and make someone’s day – regardless of what’s going on in your own … because you CAN make a difference in someone else’s life. Last, but certainly not least, welcome every single learning moment that presents itself in your life … without them, you won’t grow.
Hopefully I’ll have some more sage advice for everyone in the near future :).
This is my life (and blog)… In Progress.