This summer has certainly been one of change and growth in my life. It started April 26, 2014, as I walked across the stage with my Bachelors of Science degree in Psychology from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Two weeks later I found myself on a Greyhound bus headed to Tyler, Texas, to start a summer long NODA internship with New Student & Family Programs at Tyler Junior College. As I sat and stared out my window watching my hometown become just a glimpse I wondered if everything I had done until that point had prepared me for the journey I was embarking on.
I had never lived away from home and all of my experience in the student affairs world had been centered around multicultural affairs and leadership development and yet here I was seven hours from home ready to start interning in New Student & Family Programs. It didn’t take long for me to realize that the experiences that had led me to even search out a summer internship opportunity in a different functional area were valuable to my new position as well. That realization hit roughly 24 hours after I arrived in Tyler, as I sat in a SUV filled with students as we headed to the orientation leader retreat and they grilled me with questions.
That was in May and I have a little over 2 weeks left at my internship. In the short time that I’ve been in Tyler I’ve learned this: in order to grow you have to be okay with being uncomfortable. At 23, being uncomfortable is never easy. My generation is one that loves to have it easy. That uncomfortable environment that I created for myself was necessary for me to grow as an aspiring student affairs professional and looking back was the best thing I could have done this summer before I move to Tampa to start my graduate career. In a world where living in your comfort zone has become the norm its a great feeling to know that as impossible as it seemed, I can live outside my comfort zone and in doing so I in turn, expand it as well.
In the student affairs realm, it’s easy to get comfortable in your career and its easy to let your students live in their comfort zone. The real challenge comes when you inspire yourself to do something that is uncomfortable or when you encourage your students to take a step outside of their comfort zones. I’m a firm believer that if you take enough baby steps you’ll look back and realize that you’ve come along way from where you started.
In the words of John C. Maxwell, ” Change is inevitable, growth is optional.” I choose growth.