It’s been just shy of a year since I started in my current position. Being one of the Emerging #SApros over the course of this year has been a fantastic experience, if for no other reason than holding me accountable to reflect on my experiences on a regular basis.
Looking back at some of my posts from this past year, I’ve mentioned my disdain for reflection more than once. True introspective reflection, besides the occasional delayed awkwardness, often causes memory to lose it’s rose colored glasses for situations. While reflection is important to help us gain meaning from the work we’re doing, it typically does something else too; it reminds us of those times we failed. That’s not necessarily a bad thing.
As I think about this past year; my first as a full-time #SApro, I think about all the great things I achieved. I recall the connections I made with students and the change I helped implement within my department. But overall, do I feel like it advanced my career? Did all of those things manage to snuff out the imposter syndrome I still feel creep in when I’m unsure of how to proceed with an initiative or issue? I’d lying if I gave a definite “yes” to those questions. But why?
As I continue to grow as a professional, I know there are going to be many times where I feel like I’ve failed. There’s going to be those occasions where I’m just throwing stuff at the wall and seeing what sticks. And you know what? That’s okay. There are also going to be times that feel like resounding triumphs, and we embrace those as they come. But we can’t let ourselves get caught up in the muck if we don’t achieve every milestone we set out for. The best thing to remember is that it’s okay to feel like you failed!
Failure is what allows you to learn. I know I disagree with a lot of my colleagues when it comes to feedback and recognition. You went above and beyond what was expected? Awesome, I’m going to make sure you feel recognized for your achievement and show my appreciation for it. You completed the same task everyone else had to complete as well? Um, cool? I’m not going to throw you a ticker-tape parade every time you provide a committee update. But if that’s what is recognizable and counts as important to you, embrace it. Each individual must create their own definition of success, and incidentally a definition of failure as well.
We each have learning moments. We must just learn to take them as they come. We must grow from them. Fearing failure is what causes us to shrink back from giving something our full energy. Johnny Cash once said “You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone”. Use that fear of failure as a way of pushing onward. Working on a new assessment initiative, a colleague recently asked me what would happen if the data showed we’re doing worse than we think are and that our efforts aren’t working? I simply responded, “Well, at least we’ll know that we need to fix it.”
As summer wraps up, think about what you want to achieve this year. Think of your job responsibilities and goals you’ve set. Create a vision of what achieving all of that looks like. Now, think of what it would like if you don’t meet all those goals. Feel that twinge in your stomach? That’s what’s going to keep you on your toes; follow it!
Thanks for following the start of my journey this past year; I’m sure we’ll meet again someday!
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.