Life doesn’t throw us things that we can’t handle. Sometimes I need to remind myself of that.
There are moments where I forget to breathe amidst everything I’m doing. Those moments are typically ones when I feel like there is a lot going on in my life; a large pile of to-dos waiting to be accomplished. Usually, those to-dos are in my head, but sometimes they’re on paper strewn about on my desk. Sometimes they play over and over like a GIF and when that happens I find myself struggling to trust that everything happens for a reason. Then, something reminds me. Today that reminder came in the form of an Instagram post:
It was just what I needed to remember: go easy on yourself, you’re growing. And, trust in others so they can grow too.
It’s interesting how we offer so many supports to others who are growing, but not ourselves. We give babies soothing cold chew toys when their teeth are growing in. We afford teenagers going through the awkward stage some extra patience as they experience literal growing pains. We nurture our potted house plants with just the right amount of water, sunlight, and maybe even a bit of extra TLC by way of music or a gentle breeze from an open window now and then. But there’s something about intellectual growth that is taken a bit differently. I think because it’s an invisible internal growth we feel differently about it. Since it’s mental growing pains instead of physical ones we’re maybe a little less sure of how to offer that support to ourselves and others. Or, maybe it’s an internalized stigma we have against ourselves and our own growth. One is okay, another is less so. Food for thought.
When you dedicate your time to supporting the growth of others it’s often easy to lose sight of your own personal and professional growth.
Setting goals and deciding direction takes time. It means scheduling time to think about yourself, where you’re going, and what it’s going to take to get there. But there is often a little voice inside our head telling us that we don’t have time for such things. That we are too busy with mundane tasks and to-do lists and meetings to make time for things like this, things that matter.
I believe it’s pretty important to practice what you preach, and since goal setting, and supporting the personal and academic growth of others is a big part of my role as Transfer Student Success Coordinator, it is only fitting that I practice these things myself as well.
Part of practicing what I preach is this blog post. This is me hitting the pause button when life gets busy and deliberately taking the time to reflect. That in and of itself is taking the time to nurture my personal and professional growth.
Outside of this, there is the professional goal setting process which tasks me with setting year long goals to be revised and finalized by the end of this month. So, as I discuss with students in one on one meetings about their goals and how they plan to achieve them, I am also doing the same internally as I finalize my own professional goals for growth this academic year.
I find it intriguing how much goal setting and growth are connected to interpersonal relationships and community. When a person feels supported, they feel capable of achieving more than they realized they could. When a person has a cheerleader, a person to bounce ideas off of, a person to hold them to account when they’re liable to procrastinate, they feel nurtured, cared for, and eager to achieve success. But there’s also an aspect of goal setting and growth that is connected to authenticity and readiness. What I see in students I have been setting goals with is that: only those who are ready to seize the day see the full gamut of benefits. Those who trust the process and are open to it benefit from it. Those who set goals that are authentic and meaningful to them strive to achieve them. But, on occasion, opening a conversation about goal setting is a bit like checking in to see if a student’s’ door is open or closed. Are they ready to make a change?
Change isn’t always easy, neither is growth. I guess that’s why they call them growing pains. But, as I like to trust that ‘everything happens for a reason’, that ‘there’s always a lesson’, I also like to trust that ‘these things take time’. There’s a balance to be struck between making the time, and finding the right time.
This week, my door is open, and I’m making the time.