I think many of us in Student Affairs, across this country, and across the world have all been collectively sighing at what 2016 has brought to us this year. We have seen terror across the world and in our country through acts of hate. We’ve seen countries struggle with having their citizens heard and understood by all. We have lost many influential figures that provided us with comfort and opportunities to think. And not to mention, we have all had our own personal struggles with jobs, health, relationships, and life in general.
One would think that we should just throw in the towel on 2016 and try again next year in 2017, right? Well, I beg to differ. While this year has been challenging for many individuals, we should not be too quick to throw in the towel. We need to stop. Take in the moment. Sense what is around us….
I have always been a person who takes a lot of time to reflect on things in life. However, a moment this past semester really made me realize something. While I was struggling with things going on in the world and feeling I was not making a difference in my work in Student Affairs, I needed to stop and just listen to what was going on around me to find the good.
I’d been having a particularly hard week and was taking a walk across our campus to my next meeting/event in a busy day. During my walk, I ran into a student who was on my programming board and who I’d also worked with as an Orientation Leader. This student had always been particularly quiet and introverted. Some would say that she might not have the “right” qualities to be on a programming board or an Orientation Leader. But I knew she would be a great addition to both areas. She was talking with me about her week and all the things she needed to get done for class.
Then, all of sudden, she mentioned that she had really been having a great semester so far working as an Orientation Leader and on the student programming board. She had always thought she would stay behind the scenes. But she was surprised at how far she had come being involved on campus and how grateful she was that people took a chance on her to be a part of these groups and organizations.
And she thanked me for taking a chance on her.
This moment in my day completely changed how I was listening to things around me. I had been finding the negative in every aspect of what I was doing that day. I was focusing on things that annoyed me and put a hitch in how I was operating that day.
The main lesson that I took away from that conversation, that I am learning to use each day, is that I need to listen to find the good around me. If I had not been listening closely to the student telling me her story, I would have never heard the good that she was experiencing. I would have never heard about the good that I was a part in creating.
We often forget that each of us has our own unique story. We are each experiencing the peaks and valleys of life, and making meaning of them in our own way. It is easy to get bogged down with the state of the country and world and focus on the stress.
However, there is definitely good that can be found if we just take the time to listen.
Listen to your students and their stories.
Take time to listen to music that makes you happy.
As administrators, listen to your colleagues and employees about how they are feeling with their work.
Listen to the person that does not agree with you on your politics or your worldview.
Listen to yourself and what you are feeling.
Overall, take in the moments that allow you the opportunity to listen, which is almost every moment. Find the good that comes from that. Think back at 2016 not with negativity, but with a new ear on what you have heard and the opportunities to find the good. Then, let’s start to listen more to what is around us for a great 2017!
This post is part of our #OneGoodThing series for December. Given the numerous troubling things we have experienced together during the year of 2016, and all of the disagreement, we wanted to prove that 2016 wasn’t all bad. We will hear from #SApros about a memory, experience, or moment that was GOOD that happened to them in 2016. For more info, please see Doug’s intro post. Be sure to check out the other posts in this series too!
> BONUS <
Podcast With Dave Kerpen on Authenticity/ Branding on Social Media