Wednesday, July 6, 2016

New Things, New Place, New Home

I am one week into my first full-time College Student Affairs position and I am starting to realize that this is AWESOME! However, I absolutely did not feel awesome every step of the way.

Day one was filled with nervous smiles and confusion. Parents, students, and professionals asked me questions I did not know the answers to, which really hurt my confidence. Even though everyone was extremely polite when I told them it was my first day, I felt like I was in way over my head and couldn’t swim to the surface. As quiet and reserved as I acted, I did my best to observe my environment, attempting to learn the culture of my new home. This is not the first time I have put myself in the situation of learning a new place, but that does not make it any easier to overcome the uncomfortable feeling of being a newcomer.

Luckily, I had a three-day weekend and great pep talks from my peers to get ready for the next week. Yet, I still had mixed feelings about returning to work on Monday. After a long and non-eventful weekend, I was extremely scared that the week would be just like my first day, filled with confusion, awkward moments, and a lot of silence.

 Certainly, it was. I watched people and listened to conversations feeling as if they were speaking a different language (so many acronyms!). Then, on day four I finally made it to the surface! I met a students I will be working closely with for the rest of the year.

Finally, a conversation with someone speaking my same language, Greek! I was so relieved that I could show someone that I can do this, I know what I am taking about, and I am capable of contributing! Looking at that moment, I realized that the only person I needed to prove anything to was myself.

I have had many conversations about the importance of learning institutional culture through my educational leadership classes. On day five, after I decorated my office and unpacked the books from those classes, I was reminded to reflect on those conversations and readings about culture and institutional fit. I remembered that I have been complimented on my ability to adjust to new environments, to observe new cultures without over-stepping boundaries, and to ask questions when I am not understanding.

That moment of reflection was enough to boost my confidence because right now I’m supposed to be learning and observing. I think I have the highest expectations for myself, so when I started off quiet and reserved it made me more nervous to think that I would not overcome the initial transition. The truth is that if I want to shatter those expectations, then, first, I need to have a firm understanding of the culture I have immersed myself in.

— Jill Franklin, college student affairs #EducationalLeadership #ProfessionalU

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