I am one of those folks who, like so many in student affairs, has trouble saying “no.” Sometimes, I’m the one with the “great idea” who needs others to come along with me. Other times, I agree that something sounds interesting, and all of a sudden, I’m up to my ears in my to-do list.
Conferences for my two preferred organizations (NASPA and NACADA) are held in March, one the national and the other the regional, and I’ll admit that I find myself longing for something outside of my own institution at this time of year. The academic year already feels like its starting to wind down, as we focus simultaneously on graduation and on next year’s enrollment numbers. I’m starting to look, with my department’s administrators, at our collective goals for this year and next, and start to see where we’ve succeeded and where we’re falling short. Im feeling the pressure of demands to get that one last big thing done before the end of the academic and fiscal years and, quite honestly, I need to rejuvenate.
This year, the NACADA regional and the NASPA national are only a week apart. In the time before the conferences were approaching, I agreed to work on a pre-conference for NACADA and had corralled some colleagues into a presentation for NASPA. The topics are both things I care about deeply — the development of new professionals and the leadership of women. What I didn’t fully comprehend was the challenge of their timing. So, all those great ideas and to-dos are coming to fruition, but sometimes they come so quickly that I don’t feel that I can appropriately take the time to enjoy them.
This past Monday, I presented at NASPA with two of my fellow community college leaders and was greeted with such appreciation and such a warm welcome for our program. We were stopped in the hall, as new and seasoned professionals alike told us how inspirational our conversation with them was. I had new twitter followers who shared the same sentiment. And I had the realization that, while I was so focused on just getting the presentation ready (to check it off my list) others were learning from and with me and the two amazing women with whom I had the pleasure to present. I was reminded of the need to truly take a moment to look around and extend that appreciation both to my colleagues and to myself. I work hard and beat myself up for not being “perfect.” When my staff struggles, I question not their competence but my own. When I miss a self-imposed deadline, I often treat it as a failure, rather than acknowledging that not every deadline is a “drop dead”-line.
And so, as I return tomorrow, for 4 days of work before I have the phenomenal opportunity to help potential advisors find a path in the advising profession, I will not be listening to the advice of Gandhi, Mother Theresa, or Martin Luther King. Instead, I will be listening to the voice of Ferris Bueller, who so wisely advised us to stop and take a look around once in a while because, after all, life moves pretty fast, and we don’t want to miss it.