I had my first reverse-shadow advising appointment this morning. It’s something I’ve been itching for since the first week of this job – “I just wish they would put me with students,” I kept telling my family. “I have a master’s degree, for crying out loud.”
The universe kept reminding me to be patient. My father kept telling me to be patient. And I put patience at the forefront of my attitude, but inwardly I kept stomping my feet.
And then right before this morning’s appointment, I got nervous. I became worried that I wouldn’t remember any of the training I’d spent the last four weeks working on, or that I’d tell the student something so wrong that in a year, when they missed their graduation deadline, they would be able to blame me and sue the school.
I started to figure that at least the student knew even less than I did, and that my coworker would jump in if I really started to go downhill.
And then my coworker poked his head in to tell me that the student had brought their parent along.
I leaned forward, pressing my fingers into my temple. On my inhale, my necklace crashed against the desk.
Each morning, either around my neck or wrapped around my wrist, I wear a key. This key, courtesy of an organization called The Giving Keys, has one word on it. Grace.
I used to believe that grace was only for religious people; that it was something that you could only get or give if you had a big, powerful relationship with God. Since I didn’t have that kind of relationship, I figured I could never understand grace.
Not that I understand grace now, mind you. But I do believe that it’s much more than something religious people understand. Grace is something you can have for yourself, and for others. It’s something you can embody.
My first appointment went well, since you’re likely curious. I made a couple of mistakes, but my coworker was able to correct them, and I felt pretty confident after the appointment was over. I also have a much better understanding of why my training is going the way that it is going – a little more grace for my new job, so to speak.
In student affairs, we are often impatient. We, just like our students, want something now. We want it quick. So many of us have become accustomed to the supersonic speed of this world that we forget to have a little grace for ourselves, for each other, and for our students.
If I’ve learned anything in the first few weeks as an #SAPro (and let me be clear, I’ve learned a lot), it’s this: have grace. Allow yourself to live a life of grace, not perfection (I’m taking that direct from a wonderful woman named Emily Ley), and allow that of others as well. Especially at the college/university level. Grace, not perfection, is necessary.
I still want to be impatient, and work with students sooner, but I’m learning to have grace. And I hope, a year, or two years, from now, when I’m elbows deep in Academic Advising and maybe helping train someone else, I’m still set deep within grace. Because if I can’t offer my students a little grace, what can I offer them?