“I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do.” –Georgia O’Keeffe
Meet Esme, my perfect 1.5 pound apricot bundle of joy. Even though I’ve spent the past week sleeping on the kitchen floor and standing in a snow bank at 3 a.m. while she tries to dig to the center of the earth, I’m so glad I was able to overcome my apprehension and bring her home.
Don’t get me wrong – I’ve been planning for a dog for roughly 3 years. In fact, it is solidly built into my 5-year plan Once I knew that I had a consistent income and a way to provide for a dog long-term, there really wasn’t too much of a question (in my mind) that I was going to get one.
So when the opportunity to mother Esme arose and everything fell into place the way it did, I knew Esme was meant to be part of my life. Still, I was utterly terrified at the thought of being responsible for the health and well-being of a living creature. Regardless of how well-prepared I knew I was, it is never reassuring to jump into something you’ve never done on your own before. Not to mention, I was hearing the refrain “it might not be the right time” a lot from people around me
“Is it ever really the ‘right time’ to do anything we want to do?”
So what does this have to do with student affairs? Well, I’ve been a perpetually cautious person my entire life. I don’t like to do things that are scary and come with perceived risks. I like the safety that comes with knowing, and the calm that comes with a plan. However, if watching reality television has taught me anything, “You have to risk it to get the biscuit.”
Applying for jobs, speaking up in a meeting, or preparing for a big lift at the gym all come with the same curl of anxiety rolling through my gut. Over time, I have learned to calm the terror that comes with the idea of failure by reminding myself that the only way to learn is by putting myself out there. And I’ve also learned that just because I don’t know what to expect doesn’t mean I will fail.
I will admit though—sometimes my tendency to be timid does get the best of me. I’ve been very lucky to have friends, coworkers and a family who are great at pushing me. Those same people help to remind me that I have a great support system whose faith in me never wavers.
If we are always waiting for the “right time” to do something, we may be waiting forever. Life is always throwing us curveballs, whether they come wrapped in fur, promised with a ring or presented as a contract. To be successful, we have to be able to harness our fear and not let it keep us from pursuing our goals.
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.
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Podcast With Valerie Heruska on SA Professionals Role in Development Efforts