Invest In You

At the beginning of the academic year, I felt like a goldfish in a fishbowl.  Lonely.   Swimming in circles.  Was no one else in my office helping these students?  Why isn't everyone else responding to emails at 10:00 PM at night?  They must not care about serving our students as much as I do.  I apparently am the only one who works hard in my office. 

Boy, was I wrong. I have worked in higher education for awhile so the motion of August was nothing new to me.  Why was this year so much different?  I guess it is because this was the first August in a new position with more responsibility than I've ever had.  I had not yet realized how to handle the increased stress of this new position.  Sometimes we get so bogged down by what we are doing that we fail to realize others are as stressed out and exhausted as we are.  We fail to realize we are tired and need to recharge.  This is the time when we have to ask ourselves: what needs to happen now?  The question should be: how am I going to change my outlook in order to avoid burnout?  For goodness sake, it's not even midterms!  My point is, as young professionals, we sometimes need to take a step back and consider what we are doing to sustain our own well being.  It is a lot easier said than done.  Trust me.

My answer for myself was to stop checking emails in the span between the time I wake up and the time I step into my office.  I used to check my email constantly. Con. Stant. Ly.  For one, I am not a morning person so opening an email before I even put my glasses on started my day on the notion that I was supposed to be working right out of the gate, every day.  I was constantly in the mindset that I should be readily available to serve my students.  In this day and age of extreme connectivity (Twitter, Facebook, etc...), I was overextending myself to a point that I could not even enjoy Sunday afternoon laziness because I was too worried about resolving a student's issue on Monday.  I was setting myself up for failure by trying to fulfill my good intentions.  If I kept that up much longer, I would be no use to anyone.

 As young professionals I think we become obsessed with trying to prove ourselves.  I caution you here, student-affairs-first-year, yes, you need to make an impression on your co-workers and boss, but do it in a way that you do not sacrifice who you are.  You are not the only Millennial trying to dispel the assumptions others have of our generation.  You have back up – we all are fighting the good fight!   You need to invest in your own professional future by taking time for yourself NOW.  The long run payoff of not spending two seconds reading a work email before you even get out of bed will be that you could stave off burnout by at least a few months or years.  We are all in this together, but don't you think it is about time we started taking our own advice: take some time to reenergize between events, meetings, and student issues.   Invest in you.
Jessica DeLorenzo 

Student Affairs - the First Years

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