Throughout my first year as a #SAgrad and a Graduate Resident Director (GRD) in Residence Life, I faced many challenges that made me question and self-doubt my skills and abilities academically, professionally, and personally.
Coming into a new school year as a returning GRD, it is expected that I should know everything about every aspect about my job and the responsibilities that come with the position. However there have already been some bumps in the road, such as adjusting to a different style residence hall, increasing from a staff of four to a staff of eight, and working with returning staff members who have prior experience from a supervisor whose style is much different than my own. With these combined, there was an accumulation of tremendous pressure to perform at a level that is higher than my best.
“There’s no way I’m competent enough for this job the second time around.”
“I don’t think I’m prepared to start a new year.”
“I’m not good enough to be here.”
I feel like it is safe to say that one or more of these feelings, or feelings somewhat parallel to them, have crept into the back of one’s mind when faced with obstacles that challenge your expertise up until this point. Unfortunately, it is inevitable to avoid, due to how easy it is to be our own worst critic and it is alarming how quickly we tend to believe them.
I have taken some time to reflect on my transition and have narrowed down three positive thoughts to keep in mind when you start doubting your ability to succeed this upcoming year professionally and personally:
1.) You are competent.
Having the ability to transfer your skills from one year into the next is a challenge in itself. You need to rely on past experience and find some way to customize it to suit either a similar or different situation. This can be a scary process when you make a decision based on pure judgment and hope that the outcome plays out the way you predicted. The good news is you are capable of making good choices, thus ending in good results. It is important to remember that you know what you are doing. By basing off your decisions with your knowledge and good intentions, then good results will follow.
2.) You are prepared.
You would not have returned to the same position if your supervisor felt as if you were not ready to take on a new year with new hurdles. Being asked to return is not based on pure luck, it is based on how you took on the year as a learning opportunity to prepare you for future circumstances. Preparation is measured by the baseline that you started on and how your skills and qualities increased over time. You have the tools needed to do a successful job; you just need the prospect to learn how to properly use them which will be done efficiently and fluently.
3.) You are good enough.
For a majority, this is probably that hardest one to accept. The reason why you are good enough is because you chose to be in Student Affairs for a reason. There was something about working in a college environment and working with students that inspired you to immerse yourself into the field further and be involved with their development. You are good enough because at the end of the day, regardless of how trivial or stressful your day may have been, you know that you are in the right place and could not imagine working anywhere else.
Questioning one’s full potential is a normal trait that has its hidden benefits. I believe it is good to question your skills in your profession, because it means you still care. It shows that you are still willing to learn and progress, as well as improve the quality of how you work with your colleagues and your students. When you believe you can do better, you are choosing to find the chance to become better. After all, there had to have been something significant that encouraged you to come back and do it all over again.