My #SABeginning was full of self-doubt and “am I good enough?”.
We all talk about what made us enter student affairs and my story is pretty archetypal. I was a student staff member in Student Housing at UC Davis and loved what I did. The supervisors I had were incredibly supportive, encouraging, and had such a plethora of experiences collectively that I learned so much when I had decided to apply to #SAgrad programs.
At my #SAbeginning, I needed that support—let’s be honest I still need that support. We are all our own worst enemies, and I am no different. I was an ecology major in undergrad. Originally I wanted to be an orthopedic surgeon. And almost immediately I began to feel I wasn’t good enough. The courses I did well in had nothing to do with pre-medical requirements and my peers were always doing much better than me. I was sitting in lectures about organic chemistry, physiology, and physics, and wasn’t happy. That life path wasn’t the best fit for me and it began to feel like I wasn’t going to be successful anywhere.
It took my supervisors suggesting student affairs before I saw what was before my own eyes. I loved being an RA, supervising RAs, and working in the residence halls. In fact, I felt pretty confident about the work I did in the residence halls, this is the one area of my life where I knew I did a good job.
Fast forward to my first year as an #SAgrad; I was slowly healing from believing that I wasn’t good enough. At the beginning, I would approach each assignment in my classes with the fear of failure. Would I do well? Could I do well? My courses were taught by prominent #SApros and advisors of my program, how could I prove to them that I was deserving of the spot in my #SAgrad program? Throughout that first year, I asked for help when I needed it, and shared my thoughts and opinions even when I wasn’t fully confident in doing so. And through each week, every assignment, and all of the people that grew into my new support system, I began to believe that I was good enough.
Slowly but surely I began to regain my confidence. My cohort supported me, challenged me, and encouraged me. My advisors, supervisors, and professors were there for me and helped me to succeed. And the environment was such that we focused on our strengths and not on our deficits.
I share this story because I know there are others that live with the self-doubt and wonder if they can be successful. After my first year of graduate school I have excellent grades, an amazing mentor, supportive colleagues and peers, and I’ve travelled and experienced so much of the #SAworld. Use the people around you. Ask for help from supervisors, ask for advice from older students and #SApros, and create relationships with your peers. You never know who will help you to believe in yourself. I’ve found my best fit. Of course papers and readings will still make me anxious, but I now believe that I can be successful. And I know that the environment I am in is there to support me and believe in me too.