Baby Deer Steps

As a naturalized Floridian, one of the hardest parts of undertaking an undergraduate career in the Northeast, for me, was learning to walk on snow again. Each year, I managed to go from the teetering steps of a baby deer, into something I imagine resembled a gazelle but probably came nowhere close in my navigation of snow piles and slick ice. As I fully get into the swing of my second full semester at a fairly new institution, I find myself re-learning how to walk on my own two feet.

I’ve spent the fall semester getting the hang of processes in my office, learning about my students, and incorporating my advising style into our standard operating procedures. But we have some aspects of my position that I haven’t gotten to utilize yet, for one reason or another. And when those assigned duties finally surfaced, as they have this week, I found myself knock-kneed and unsure of my footing once again. For someone who has thrived as her confidence has grown this semester, it’s been a hard adjustment to make, regressing back to being “the new kid” again. It’s not been an overwhelming experience so much as an unsteady one. Do I know what I’m doing? Am I ready for this?

Thanks to a survey I helped administer about the transition from graduate school into the first position as a new professional, I know these concerns are normal. Rising to the challenges of unfamiliar terrain in the job is an important part of any new position, and sometimes adjustment of attitudes and comfort levels is required. Applying a mantra I learned from the survey is helping me to cope with these new challenges- “Be humble, be accepting, be patient.” Humility has driven me to ask for help, allowing someone else to answer a question I feel I should know the answer to. But I have been listening to the answers for future questions and to be prepared next time! Acceptance is not placing a burden on myself for not being an authority. Instead, doing my best to remind myself, “You don’t have to know it all yet - learning on the job is not only okay, but encouraged!” And patience is taking my time to feel comfortable, being attentive to my students and fellow staff members who want me to get up to speed, and being okay with that process.

Sometimes the learning process can be like that first snowstorm- unexpected, unforgiving, and uncomfortable. But by accepting it as a natural force of nature, we can learn to ease into it, eventually standing on solid footing amidst the snowfall around us. And like that first snow, it can be a pretty beautiful experience too and a proud moment when you are able to stand on your own two feet!

What new tasks have challenged you? How do you cope with feeling new?

Amma Marfo
Guest Writer

Student Affairs - the First Years

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