What I enjoyed about the #SAChat regarding “Confronting the Inferiority Complex of Student Affairs’ Value.” was how the term “validation” branched off as its own topic of discussion. There was a variation of posts from #SAPros and #SAGrads who felt either validated or not validated enough in their work. All points were valid whether it was the income or seeing the development of students that was considered as enough validation.
As the tweets started coming in, I was able to easily relate and empathize with the latter of these two groups. Especially as one who has been struggling as a first year graduate student in the process of seeking out my own personal significance as a Student Affairs professional and as a person.
As I started emerging in a new institution and a new position as a Graduate Resident Director in Residence Life, I wanted to know that I was doing a good job and that my contributions to the staff and the department was worth something. However, I started noticing that the harder I worked towards being recognized, the more exhausted and frustrated I was becoming. I began questioning if what I was doing was meaningful enough for all the effort I was giving. I finally spoke up to my supervisor one day, and verbalized how disappointed I was after a staff meeting regarding how the reaction from my morning report was not as strong as I had anticipated. The response I received from him was not something I was wanted to hear, but instead it was something I needed to understand. “You know you’re doing a good job. Why isn’t that enough for you?” I did not have a response. It wasn’t because I received a compliment, but because I genuinely agreed with he what he said. I am doing a good job and I know it, so why isn’t that enough?
We seek validation in multiple ways through different vessels of our lives whether it is from family, intimate relationships or in our work in Student Affairs. Seeking out validation is a process of obtaining the sense of self-worth and self-respect from others through their recognition and approval of you as a person and the work that you do. In a high-stress level career like Student Affairs, it is vital that we have a strong support system that we know will have our backs to catch when we fall and hands to cling to when we need to reach up to get on our feet again. However, even though those support systems may be developed, unfortunately there are going to be days where your hard work will go unnoticed. It’s going to drain you and possibly be hurtful in some cases. We hear the terms “self-esteem,” “self-worth”, and “self-respect”, but it is rare to hear the term “self-validation” as a viable tool to utilize as we work in this profession.
FT You will spend the rest of your entire life with one person. That person is you, so why not be nice and validate yourself? #sachat
— Jaime Irene Wright (@JWright_SA) May 29, 2015
Self-validation is the experience of internally accepting your thoughts and feelings towards your own self-worth and achievements. Learning how to self-validate your work is not selfish or conceded. Self-validation is a hard treasure to find, but it becomes one of your most valuable discoveries. This is what had led up to my FT: realizing that sometimes we tend to be harder on ourselves when we don’t get the ideal feedback from external sources. Towards the end of the chat, I had come to comprehend that everyone needs to feel validated in some shape or form, and have their own unique way of experiencing self-validation.
Validation could be seen in the growth of the staff you supervise or the outcome of a program that has been planned for months. Regardless, if you receive validation differently then the way you expected, in the end you still have the right to credit yourself and the accomplishments you make. So go out there and be the best friend that you can be to yourself, and let yourself know how awesome of a job you’re doing!