“It always seems impossible until it is done.”
I can’t think of a better way to start a post that has tormented me with writer’s block for days. I wrote 5 pages of text but nothing felt right. Nothing felt like it was what I needed to say, and what I needed to share. I looked for inspiration in every book within my room, every article I’ve read, and every discussion post from class. I even laid on my floor and stared at the ceiling for an hour, hoping that if I stared hard enough the white would turn black with the text I needed to write.
And then out of nowhere, I came across this quote and I immediately knew what I needed to write about this week. I’ve been feeling overwhelmed with “the impossible” the past few weeks, as my class load is heavier than I anticipated and my personal life has been filled with family commitments. I’ve been reading about learning theories and wondering “How in the actual heck am I going to remember the name of the fifth stage in Kohlberg’s theory of moral development, let alone actually remember to use it?”
Student affairs, I’m learning, is a constant battle of impossible vs. achievable. In fact, one of my readings this semester even points out how the “Student Personnel Point of View” talks about how those of us working in higher education must work towards helping a student “reach his or her full potential and contribute to society’s betterment” (Evans et al, 2010, p. 8). I mean, how is that for a goal to guide a person through their career?
Through our education we are given boundless amounts of information concerning theories, best practices, and new research from our peers so we can become better resources for the students we serve. Then we are also supposed to know the intimate intricacies of our specific institutions. Finally, we are expected to know how to spin them all together. All that “knowing” combined with actually applying the information we’ve accrued sort of makes my head dance.
The thing is though, as daunting as it all appears here, it is really quite simple. We do what we do because we love it; not because we get to wear fancy pantsuits, or because we love late nights and early mornings. We do what we do because we know what it feels like when we finally make a personal connection with a student who has been stonewalling us. We do it for the moment when we see how our actions have helped put someone on the right path towards figuring out their life.
Even if we don’t see the moments when we made the impact, we are reminded when we meet those same students in the grocery store a week or a month later. We are reminded when we get a note from a student a year or sometimes many years later. We are reminded when we turn on the TV and see the difference our former students are making in the world. These people are our legacy; the people we have at one point in our career affected.
As I look at the stack of textbooks on my desk, completing my next three assignments feels impossible to me right now. But at the end of the week my reading will be complete and the assignments will be turned in. As I struggle with the “impossible” I need to remind myself that the work I’m doing now is actually helping me along the path of endless “possible”. And nothing seems impossible once it is already conquered.
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.
Evans, N.J., Forney, D.S., Guido, F.M., Patton, L.D., & Renn, K.A. (2010) Student development in college: Theory, research, and practice (2nd ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass