We’ve all been guilty of those moments of panic where we aren’t quite sure what we should be doing with our lives. Insert me… a 25 year old ex-college athlete trying to discover who she is and what she wants to do with the rest of her life. They say to take the road less traveled and that is certainly what happened with me.
Growing up, I always had this plan that I would go to college and play soccer, become an athletic trainer, get a dog, have a family and so on and so forth. Let’s face it—we all strive for that American dream, but what we don’t consider is life throwing you an unconventional curve ball into your batter’s box. My junior year in college was my batter’s box moment. I couldn’t stand getting up at 5am, going to practice for 2 hours, showering, then heading to class, then heading to clinical, eating dinner, heading to my second soccer practice, and then FINALLY heading back home to do homework until 11pm. For a while, I was fine, but then I realized I didn’t love it and I needed a change. So, I did what I always did when I was struggling …I called my mom. She told me that I needed to “hit my pause button” and discover what I was passionate about again.
I promise we’re getting to the good part, but I need to lay down a few more pivotal moments for you. Prior to my junior year, I went on a mission trip to Jamaica where I developed this adoration for helping people. As I was reflecting on what made me passionate, I remembered the glow-y feeling in the pit of my stomach when I helped those children in Jamaica. I knew that I wanted a life that gave me that feeling again. The next morning, I walked into my advisor’s office, dropped out of the ATC program and began my next adventure into a new field: sociology.
Upon graduating, I was at a new crossroad. Again, I was feeling lost, confused, and unsure on what master’s program I wanted to pursue. Instead of jumping right back in to school, I took a gap year and accepted a position as the Assistant Women’s Soccer Coach at Millsaps College in Jackson, MS. Through working with these college athletes, I developed an admiration for student success. Looking back—I think this was the first moment I realized I wanted to work with college students and help them through similar situations as myself.
I knew that I was interested in working with students, but I still had this passion for service that I needed to explore. I decided to get my graduate degree in Public Administration—which may seem strange considering this is a post about Student Affairs. Sit tight…we’re getting there. Upon my acceptance at Cleveland State University (Go Vikings!) I applied for a graduate assistantship in the Department of Student Life working with the Major Campus Life Event Specialist. Through this opportunity, I was able to combine my love of leadership (teamwork, soccer), my love of service (Jamaica mission trip) AND my passion for student success (Millsaps College). I’m happy to say I have FINALLY found my home in Student Affairs.
Why did I tell you this story? Someone who takes ‘the road less traveled’ is acting independently, freeing themselves from the conformity of others, generally making their own choices, and perhaps leaving a new trail that will become the road more often traveled. In the end, it was never about the how I got there. The purpose of this post is to reach out to those of you who are scared about an unconventional approach to Student Affairs—don’t be! As I wrote above, perhaps YOU are now forging a new road that will become the road everyone else chooses to travel. Never be afraid to be different, you never know where this crazy life could take you.
Happy Careers in Student Affairs Month everyone!
This post is part of a series written by members of the NASPA Graduate Associate Program (GAP) and has been cross-posted from the NASPA blog. To learn more about the NASPA Graduate Associate Program, check out the program page on the NASPA website.