Let me explain. I chose to stay in the same city that I earned my masters degree from (Mobile, Alabama) for a relationship, but I knew that limiting myself would mean a longer search.
Still, the more I’ve been searching, the more difficult it’s been to be active on student affairs-related social media like Twitter, or even Facebook. I get jealous of seeing what others are doing elsewhere. I look at the opportunities others have had to start practicing what they learned about in their graduate programs and I begin to call myself a failure. I ask myself questions like, “why didn’t I pursue the same opportunities”, “are my experiences not good enough”, “is this really the right field for me”.
You know, each of our stories are different. Some of us may be staying in one area for a particular reason, like for family, a relationship like me, or even just pure comfort. Meanwhile, our colleagues may have more freedom to seek opportunities elsewhere in the nation. Like I said, some days are frustrating, but it’s not all dreary and full of despair. It’s definitely easier to close oneself off from our colleagues and the friends we’ve made through social media and conferences, and instead just wallow in a state of self pity. But pity won’t get us anywhere!
I’m not saying pitying oneself is bad. I’ve grown from it and I think expecting someone to be truly positive during their entire search is ridiculous. You should never view rejection as anything but just another learning experience. Similarly, having one door closed on you doesn’t mean there isn’t another one waiting to be open. See, I can be an optimist too 😉
If you’re anything like me and currently searching for your next opportunity, I get it. You may question how can someone like me who understands that everyone’s’ situation is different attempt to give advice to a large audience at once. I get it, I’ve been there. I’m on the receiving end of others’ advice at least a couple times a month and you know what, you can take it or leave it.
This is where one of my favorite expression, “doing you”, comes in. Beginning our careers is an indescribably HUGE part of our lives. Don’t tether yourself to anyone else, if possible. If you have the opportunity to “start out on your own” and explore a new area of the country, do it! If you want to stay in one particular area then stay. but realize that your options will likely increase more with movement as compared to staying in one area. Asking for advice is fine and sometimes you may find that someone’s experiences were so different than your own that their advice unfortunately doesn’t carry a lot of weight for you. Still, getting other people’s perception on their journeys has been inexplicably helpful to me during my search so far.
Similarly, don’t forget the all powerful word “no”. Since I’m staying in my current city for at least a little bit longer, I’ve pursued opportunities to gather as many experiences relevant to our field as possible at my current institution. However, I may be in classes but classes aren’t my focus. On the other hand, a job is totally my focus. When people ask me to do something that may take away from some particularly good energy I’m devoting to my search, I’m learning to respond with a “no”. Yes, it’s hard sometimes but it’s so worth it.
You know, I may not be in my dream first position right now, but as I piece together something that resembles a life, I’m feeling better than ever. You may face some “harder” days while on your search but as long as you remind yourself of why you entered this field in the first place, you may find answers to some of the questions that litter your mind.
This post is part of the Emerging SA Pro series following 4 awesome people: Alexandria, Doug, Emily, and Alexander, as they blog monthly about 1 year of their journey as either a new SA Pro or SA grad student. We are proud to help them share their stories as they break into our field.