Just In Case You Were Wondering...

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Sadly, this is really so much more true than I would like to admit.  My family has these visions of my prestigious, Ivy League academic career full of smart words and even smarter thoughts.  They think I'm brilliant, and I let them think that.  My friends still think I am in college and going to fraternity parties and having fun all the time.  Sometimes it is fun, but usually the attempt to make things fun is just exhausting.  Their friends and the strangers I attempt to explain my career to think I babysit...although a lot of the time it feels like it.  The professors I try to work with, study with, or get jobs with thing I run a circus...and sometimes I do.  I am pretty sure I save the world and lead revolutions and inspire generations to be better people, leading lives of service and change and positive influence and hope and all that stuff.

And in reality, most of my days are exhausting, stressful, unproductive, and leave me wondering why I am doing this crazy thing called student affairs.  Yes, there are days that involve mariachi bands and cotton candy machines.  Yes, there are more t-shirts than one person should ever own.  Yes, there are too many middle of the night hours spent in the pediatric emergency room.  But mostly, it's just a bunch of meetings that involve the following words... development, engagement, growth, learning outcomes, expectations, allies, best practices, collaborate, community, intentional, assessment, diversity, millennials, risk management.  And it's a lot of conversations with students where I attempt to help them see the implications of their actions and how they can grow as a person, campus leader, college student, etc.  

And, if I'm being totally honest, it's a lot of approaching ridiculous situations and actions as if they were totally legitimate things the students did, but just maybe how they could do better next time.  Sure, it's fine that you passed out in the middle of Broadway at 3 a.m., but how could you make better choices next time?  Oh, you chose to have a keg party with 100 people in a residence hall room?  Ok, let's talk about ways you could handle that in the future.  I hear you were smoking illegal drugs on campus...what made you choose to do that?  So, you chose to turn in your friend's paper as your own...what do you think the implications of that choice are?  All talk, all the time.  A whole lot of not-so-tough love.  And really, really great stories that are usually in some way confidential and can never be shared.  Welcome to student affairs.

Now, the student affairs conferences?  Don't even get me started on those.  Somehow, for about five days, all six of those pictures come together for one unforgettable, or sometimes hard to remember, week of higher ed professional greatness.  All you student affairs friends know exactly what I mean.  It's like a secret society, complete with a handshake and code words and unwritten rule book for true membership. It's the one week of the year we get to pretend like we are normal people too.  Because those other 51 weeks are full of students and ridiculousness and wondering what exactly we signed up for.

Because most of the time I have no idea...

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