They Say it’s My Birthday: The Year of 23

by Tolu Taiwo

Today is February 6, and it marks one of the most important days of the year—my birthday! As someone who considers this a major holiday—and who never lets her close friends and family forget it—I have taken this time to make “yay it’s my birthday!” Rice Krispy treats for my students, drop present hints for my mom, and create post-work birthday plans (get home at 9 p.m., pass out). And, as proof that my graduate programs’ value system has gotten to me (the program that has its grad students write reflections, remember?), I have also taken some time to think about what I want this Year of 23 to look like for me.

It never made sense to me that people make New Year’s Reso
lutions on January 1, instead of their birthdays. After all, resolutions are personal, and about how you want the rest of your year to look. Shouldn’t that start on your birthday? So, in honor of my possibly misguided but totally valid question, I present to you my Birthday Resolutions. Many of them are related to my student affairs work, but most of them focus solely on me. (After all, if I can’t get my life together, how can I tell my students to do the same?)

I will love myself, because I am not half bad. Ever since I was old enough to fully comprehend what the phrase “just be yourself” meant, I have wished time and time again that I was cooler, or more beautiful, or less awkward, or thinner, or smarter. Loving myself has never been easy for me; in fact, hating myself is more my cup of tea. However, self-loathing gets exhausting, and it’s time I start looking at myself the way my loved ones do. I also want to start loving myself in terms of physical wellness—start Pilates and running again, try my hand at eating cleaner—but as of now, my emotional wellness comes first.

I will open up, and share more with my cohort. Everyone has been so open and wonderful about sharing pieces of themselves, something I struggle with greatly. I always think that I have nothing important to add, or that I’ll sound stupid saying something during an important discussion in class. But by doing so, I am denying my cohort members a chance to hear my thoughts, and I am taking myself out of the equation of intellectual discourse. My goal is to get courageous, and start speaking up, whether it’s about the readings, my experience with my assistantship, or a personal truth.

I will advocate for myself. I am the worst at telling people what I need and asking for help. As someone who is in a helping profession, I am getting good at counseling others and checking in with students. But I rarely make my needs known at work, academics, or in relationships with others. I want to learn how to do this, especially because good student affairs professionals need to learn how to advocate for resources, a skill that comes from being able to advocate for yourself. And if I don’t speak up for myself, who will?

I will (try, try, try to) make my worry box smaller. No more staying up till 5 a.m., panicking about the day ahead of me. I am done freaking out about what I said to someone, or the stupid thing I did earlier. “Peace of mind” is the official slogan of the Year of 23.

I will go easier on myself, forgive myself, and remind myself that I am only human. Maybe next year I’ll be able to report that I have reached all my goals, and I have built up my self-confidence to Beyoncé-esque levels. Or maybe I’ll still struggle with sleeping late because of anxiety, or I’ll fail to do Pilates, or I’ll still be the quietest one in class. And you know what? That’s okay. For the past 23 years, I have actively pursued perfectionism, missed the mark, and critiqued myself in the worst way. It’s time for me to admit to my faults, and then let it go. All I can do is give in 110% effort, and forgive myself if things don’t go according to plan—and that includes my Birthday Resolutions.

Do you have any Birthday Resolutions? Feel free to share them here or tweet them at @SAFirstYears!

Student Affairs - the First Years

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