It’s amazing what a year can do!
This May will make one year since I’ve been at MIT (in whatever capacity).
During that one year, I finished my one-and-a-half-years in graduate school. (still counts for the point I want to make!)
In the past month I have had at least two – maybe three – interactions involving conversations about growth.
Specifically, my personal growth. Even more specifically, my personal growth over the past year as a direct result of graduate school and/or working.
And I’m talking about growth in ways that impact my personal life and the way I move through the world. It’s important for me to note that because, even though I have definitely, obviously, grown as a student affairs professional, my growth as a person outside the realm of student affairs is a bit more significant.
I don’t really realize how much I’ve grown/changed until it’s pointed out to me or brought to my attention by someone else. Is that how growing up works?
Earlier in April I met up with a friend from grad school, Jackie, for nachos and we were talking about lots of adult-life things such as work, relationships, weddings, family, etc. In discussing our respective relationships, we talked about how being in a relationship in one’s mid-twenties is a lot different from being in one during college or high school. This led to a discussion about perspective and development and how we’ve changed as people over time, specifically through grad school. Anyway, among the things we discussed, Jackie pointed out that she had noticed a significant change in myself and my confidence over the course of graduate school which certainly effects the way I approach my relationships. For context, I’ve recently entered a new relationship; my first in several years. Having learned about student development and social justice issues, and ways in which my work can improve the lives of others, I have gained a confidence in my position in the world. I am sure of what I want and what I think is right and of myself (in some ways more than others), but most of all, I am sure that I am not wrong in who I am or what I believe. My experiences, perspectives, opinions, the way I live, are valid. And in embracing that reality, I’ve found a new way of approaching my relationships – both romantic, platonic, and familial. It would take wayyyy too long of a blog post to cover every way in which learning about the field of student affairs has impacted me and the way I see things, but as I believe I’ve said before, many times: Studying student affairs, and learning the ways to best support our students has shown me the ways to support and accept myself.
So, not only is this new-found confidence and empowerment showing up in my personal life, but people at work are noticing, too. I’m not exactly famous for my confidence – everyone knows I could use a little spine – but as the circle comes around to the end of my first year at MIT, just the other day my “big” supervisor commented that she’s noticed a change in me. As little as my being able to answer her question without (much) hesitation, or checking with someone. I’ve even been advocating for myself as I transition from intern/temp to full term MIT-affiliated employee! It sounds silly, but simply asking about my status has been a challenge for me – and moving forward with the encouragement of my supervisors has become much easier.
So, thanks grad school. Thanks, MIT. You’ve changed me in more ways than expected!
This post is part of the Emerging SA Pro series following 4 awesome people: Meagan, Karyn, Michael, and Alice, 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.