In a job that has been held by only one person previously, I sometimes feel a bit stuck. I find myself in meetings where I am the odd ball out- the exception, if you will. Things sometimes don’t apply to me or there isn’t an answer for my area.
It can be a little lonely at times, frustrating even to ask questions and be met with the response, “Well that’s something for you to figure out.” As someone who loves her rules, plans, structures, and procedures, the ringing uncertainty burns my ears. I’m yearning for some definition. Each day it seems I uncover a new rule, a new exception. For those who are creative and maybe a little more “orange” on the True Colors scale, this may sound like a dream come true. But my Blue/Gold has been wrecking me with doubt, insecurity, and frustration. (For those unfamiliar with the personality test.) I’ve been challenged in my training to open myself up to the inherent openness associated with my role. There are a few things I’ve aimed to keep at the forefront of my mind in this endeavor. On days when you feel alone and fed up at work, may they help you breathe a little easier and find your way out of a funk.
One of the great benefits to a position like mine, is the ability to explore new possibilities. Since there aren’t quite as many new processes in place, it provides me opportunities to create some from scratch that I think will be effective and innovative. It could be really unique to do something that hasn’t been done before and build up a skill set that I wouldn’t otherwise get to build upon. A great example of this is the freedom I have in my first year seminar class. Since it is only in its second year, I am able to explore new things in the curriculum and incorporate ideas that are exclusively mine.
This is probably the reminder that is hardest for me. I love me some efficiency and when communication fails or timelines are slow I can get really frustrated. The blessing and the curse of a small campus is that you know a lot more, so you know if something gets stalled, exactly where or why it happened. In an entry-level position, big scale, institutional changes aren’t always possible and sometimes red tape is just red tape. The oddities of our institution include an odd relationship to our system campuses and those are things that “are they way they are.” With the number of times I hear that phrase, my patience quickly wears thin. When I hear once again that I am the exception, I’ve got to take a deep breath, step back, and reevaluate what is really going on.
As such, it is important to forgive the people reporting the “that’s the way the cookie crumbles” news. It isn’t any one person’s fault. The idiosyncrasies often tempt me to place blame or complain. Neither of which advance my position or cause in any way. It is critical to continue to try to understand as best as I can and be considerate of my colleagues who have been here much longer than me. There are many things that don’t make a lot of sense to me, but clearly have been working for the campus for several years, so it isn’t my place to rock the boat. Even more, I’ve had to forgive myself a lot. In a new role, it is impossible to have all the answers and I tend to beat myself up when I’ve had to send a student away without a full picture of the scenario. In those cases, all I can do is do my best for the student, and follow up however I can.
New job, new city, new people, new students, new work — it’s ALL new! I hope that I can be the type of person who has some fun with her work. (And I have a conduct background, y’all!) I’ve been told that my positivity is one of my greatest strengths and I’m really working to remember that during trying times in the office. Life is too short to take yourself seriously all of the dang time so I want to explore and be patient and forgive and have fun.
These things are verbs. They are things to do. My biggest goal in this new role is that I never sit idle and wish things were another way. Hoping for things to get easier and pondering how it could be different doesn’t change anything. (Side note: I listened to a GREAT podcast on this topic the other day over at The Lively Show, check it out here). I want to take action, if not in a direct way on campus, in my own life and attitude so that I can make the most of the beginning of my #SACareer.