This I Believe: No one is an island

by Tolu Taiwo

I grew up hearing this phrase so much during my childhood that by the time I was in college, I thought it was an old Nigerian proverb (which, of course, are lies. It’s actually from a poem by John Dunne). The “no man is an island” mentality—the idea that we all need other people, that we can’t go through certain ordeals solo—is something that I try and remember in my personal life. Oddly enough, it’s the reason why one of my StrengthQuest traits is “connectedness,” it’s the reason why I’m slightly superstitious and I believe in karma, it’s the reason why I leave pennies on the ground for strangers to pick up. I have to admit: I’m not perfect. There are multiple instances where I’ve tried to go at things alone (asking for help is the biggest thing I preach and the hardest thing for me to actually do). But at the end of the day, I usually realize that trying to be self-sufficient all the times never works for me. I need to swallow the Honda–sized thing I call my pride, and be part of a unit.

My “This I Believe” statement, however, also relates to student affairs as well. When I advise my students, I want to make sure I act in a manner that influences them in an encouraging way. And there have been so many people that have reached out to me and guided me to a certain path, or that have helped me deeply since I’ve arrived in Fort Collins. I have former advisors who’s main job was to sure I was a great student leader and a better person, I have cohort members who make sure I calm and unwind from time to time, I have two wonderful supervisors that keep my sharp and sane…the list could go on. Student affairs is a relationship-based field, and we all need each other to be the best we can be. And whether we recognize it or not, we all have people that we motivate to be the best they can be.

There are some days that I wake up, and wonder what difference I’m making in Residence Life. Those are the days that a student doesn’t listen to me, or someone in student affairs gets confused about what I do (it’s okay, it’s fine, the job title “Residence Education and Leadership GA” could mean many different things, I guess). I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels that way, but it’s imperative that we remember that we matter. We are all important in the grand scheme of things, because we are all working together to make sure the students have great experiences in the residence halls. And I, personally, affect the people around me whether I can conceptualize it or not that day. Whether or not I can feel my influence it not important; it’s much more important that I remember that I am important, and I strive to make a positive difference in my students’, cohort members, and supervisors’ lives.

I wouldn’t be here, in Colorado State University working for residence life, if someone hadn’t reached out to me and talked about my future in student affairs. I truly believe that I am significant to my students and student affairs professionals as well. And when we think about it, isn’t that one of the best things about student affairs? Whether we feel connected with our students, our department, and/or with practitioners across the nation, we have people who have our back, people who we can turn to when needed. We are all part of an island.

Student Affairs - the First Years

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