Previously I spoke of my journey to a university on the Gulf Coast after growing up in New England my entire life. It’s been a journey full of ups and downs, but what journey worth describing is without those?
However, the mistake I made is one I encourage others to reconsider before making it as well. Don’t limit yourself; just stop! Don’t do it!
You know one of the things many young developing professionals are sold on in this field is our ability to be transient, to enjoy different parts of the country all while doing what we love: serving students (well, hopefully that’s why you’re in this field but sometimes on Twitter….I wonder).
If we limit ourselves to one area of the country, one region, one school for any other reason besides our professional development and our affinity for that area, we’re doing ourselves a disservice. I cannot overstate how choosing to forgo one’s own aspiring career in favor of someone else is just plain silly. I’ve made this choice, others have made this choice, and even more will continue to do so. But why?
I put a loved one ahead of my career because I was confident we could manage two budding careers at the same time in one small geographical area. Some have success with this, others do not. I wish my near-25 year old self could go back and speak with my younger 22 year old self right now and urge him to put his career first as he completes his masters degree and seek out the opportunities he’s been pining for for many years.
Instead, the six months following graduation have become half of a gap year, a “year off” that I never planned on taking in the first place. Perhaps I’ll consider this break to be relaxing when I retroactively look back on it after diving fully into the profession. But right now, I’m thinking the opposite. If anything, I feel more stressed without the job I seek than how I expect to feel had I been employed currently.
Listen, I get it. You love him, you love her, you want it to work out. You’re frightened of spending any length of time away from your loved one, you’re worried that you may find yourself in that long-distance relationship you’ve heard horror stories of. Trust me, if your partner really cares for you, really loves you, then he or she should let you pursue the opportunity you’ve been dreaming of. You need to take this offer and run with it.
Many people are selfish and may not want their partner to leave them for any extended period of time, even when the reason is career-based; however, there are those we meet, those we engage in relationships with, who truly want the best for us. When we meet those people the hardest thing to do is give them up for something you’re unsure of.
My partner wanted me to take that leap, to pursue the position I wanted wherever it was located and not to limit myself based on the geography of our relationship. I wasn’t confident in my ability to leave my partner behind and pursue what I had been preparing for for years and now I realize what a mistake that was.
I truly think the stress of being without the job I anticipated having once I completed my masters is worse than what I would’ve experienced being in a long-distance relationship. Is the self-doubt, the questions, the insecurity worth it? No, not at all.
There are many practitioners in student affairs who are settled, who may have families, who may have something tying themselves to one particular area. But when someone is afraid to take the leap, as I was, I’m no longer shocked. It honestly pains me when I see people in our field, young people especially, tell stories of their unhappiness, of their unemployment when they at least appear to be “good” people. But I can’t be apathetic towards these individuals any longer.
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.
> BONUS <
Podcast With Valerie Heruska on SA Professionals Role in Development Efforts