When to Say No

by Megan Reilly

I work in a strange space in higher education. I'm technically on the Academic Affairs (AA) side of the university, working in an academic unit, on academic initiatives, with more contact with faculty than students. But I continue to consider myself a Student Affairs Professional. Why? Maybe a little wishful thinking, maybe a little because that was the goal for so long, and maybe because AA professional doesn't have the same ring to it. But mostly I think because I still see the big picture of how my work impacts and serves students, and that is overall my goal.

However, sometimes I feel a little isolated from the heart and soul of the campus. I want to be part of the pulse and I have found some great ways of doing that. I have several good friends from my time in the Center for Student Engagement who are great at tapping me into opportunities for volunteering and gaining extra professional student affairs (SA) skills. I also have made my perspective clear to my supervisor and she's great at giving me opportunities as they arise as well. And if you want something, you have to get it yourself sometimes too, so I have signed up for a few on my own. But with opportunities coming at me left and right, when is it okay, especially as a BRAND NEW SA professional, to start saying no thanks?

I could list all of the things I'm currently doing, but take my word for it: my plate is full. I am constantly working (none of that glorious "down-time" that I hear some people talking about...) and even my "lunch break" is spent working on things I'm technically not getting paid for. I've even found myself busy on my morning and evening bus commute lately. So when that new opportunity hit my inbox on Thursday afternoon of last week I really had to stop and think. It sounds like an awesome opportunity and something that I don't have experience in yet, but really want to learn. It's not a *huge* time commitment, but I really don't even know if I have time for another small commitment. At the same time, someone nominated me for this role, so maybe it's something I shouldn't turn down, but something else can give.

My concern is that at some point, it won't be my career that suffers - it'll be my health, my relationships with friends and family, maybe even my mental and emotional stability. And those things are important too. So now it's just a matter of determining what is most important, what I want most, and when to say no.

Student Affairs - the First Years

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