A year makes a lot of difference. The amount of growth that happens in that time is incredible. Today has been one of reflection. I’m learning more about myself and learning to love myself more than I ever have. January is the beginning of the end for many in the #SAgradhunt. It’s full of nerves, excitement, anxiety and lots of waiting.
January 2014, I was all of those things and more. I was nervous, bright-eyed and full of hope AND fear. I feared what would happen if things didn’t go the way I had them planned. I had applied to 5 programs and was sure that everything would fall into place. How could they not? Well it happened that I wasn’t accepted to 3 of those programs, interviewed at two, accepted to one. Why didn’t I take the offer at the one school, you might ask? Well I thought about it. And it wound up not being the right “fit.” I didn’t feel it. I loved the school, the faculty and the people, but it didn’t “fit” with my goals. There are other reasons why I didn’t take it but that is a big one.
Fast forward to January 2015. I’m in the same position as I was in January 2014 except I have a new outlook on the process. A year ago, I was battling with the negative voices in my head telling me that I wasn’t good enough. I was also struggling with comparing my individual journey with everyone else’s. I feared what would happen if I didn’t get in. This year, I am keeping things positive. I know that my journey is just that my own. I know that I am good enough and that I have a ton to contribute to the field. In the past week, I found out that my hard work has paid off. I was invited to interview for a highly competitive program.* This program is actually one that I wasn’t invited/accepted to last year. It was a shocker, but it confirmed that timing is everything. A rejection doesn’t always mean no, but sometimes it means not yet.
Every so often I check the Future Student Affairs Grads Facebook group and see prospective students/future colleagues freaking out and asking questions of what if. I clearly remember when I was them unsure of what would happen but all the while hopeful. I keep my post in the group as positive as possible because I know what it’s like for things to not go the way you want them to the first time. I’m a living testament to things working themselves out. At the time of everything that happened with me last year, I thought the ball was made of glass. That if I didn’t start a grad program right away everything would be ruined. The ball was actually made of rubber. I bounced back and have had such an amazing time unearthing who Ronnie is now.
Yesterday, I organized a google hangout for several of my future colleagues to get to know each other and know that we’re not in the process alone. Throughout the hangout 8-9 people chatted about the programs we’re interested in, the functional areas of student affairs we want to work in, student athletes, weather & natural disasters, and our fears and hopes for the process. I enjoy these conversations so much because you get insight on how vast our field is. I remember the first major google hangout I had with other prospective SA grads and it was amazing. I am happy to have been able to bring that same feeling to this group of future professionals.
Yesterday, I also decided to look at my application materials from last year and compare them with this year. I particularly looked at the materials for the program where I was invited to interview days. Upon reviewing my Fall 2014 personal statement, I was not happy with it. There were things that I would definitely have changed to make it better. It didn’t feel like me. When I compared it to the one I wrote for Fall 2015, I found that the newer one feels more authentic. I knew what I wanted and how to convey that in a manner that showcased who I am.
I’m ecstatic by the opportunities in front of me. January is an anxious month and despite going through this process a second time, I’m still anxious to know what programs I will be accepted to or interviewing at. I simply want to know what is still a possibility. Many others are in the same position. But if I can give advice to anyone it would be this:
Your journey is your own. Celebrate with and congratulate others, but know that you will end up where you’re supposed to be. Believe in yourself. You are good enough.
Before anyone knows it, February will be in full swing and people will be traveling across the country, interviewing for assistantships, meeting future cohort-mates and colleagues and building a network of people who understand why we love student affairs. It is an exciting time. Make the most of it. Don’t get caught up in competition. That is setting yourself up for failure. Be genuine and really try to learn as much about the program, the town and most of all the people as you can. March will be here faster than you think and the waiting game is real. But until then, simply enjoy the ride.
*I kept this part vague for a reason. I don’t want to share what programs interviewing at until interviews are done and I’ve accepted a position. Friends, family and mentors will know, but when I’ve committed a program I will scream it out at the top of my lungs. Until that moment, I don’t want to jinx anything.