I need a break from the case study I’m writing for class, so naturally I’m going to write some more. First and foremost, I have been a negligent blogger, my loves, and for that I apologize. As I sit here thinking about the last few weeks of my life, I feel like a lot has happened, but nothing of great substance. In trying to find something to write about, I’ve come to the conclusion that there have been situations in the past weeks that made me feel like I was being personally tested, and I watched some of the same things happen with my peers. As such, I’ve tried to think of some ways that people can stay true to themselves as they mature in their professions because I can promise you, it’s a challenge sometimes.
Know Your Audience
It’s often easy to feel like the people around us are the easiest people to trust. When that isn’t the case, it’s easy for a person to get burned by sharing information with the wrong person or people. I have found the handful of people I really trust in my life, and outside of them, I don’t share much because I have been the one to get burned before. I don’t have some foolproof way to test who is and isn’t trustworthy: TRUST ME if I did, I’d be filthy rich and giving motivational speeches all around the country. Instead, I say take the time to know who your audience is before you take to venting. Are there times I’d like to go off about something work-related in this blog? Certainly, but I don’t because A) it’s unprofessional, B) this field is too small for that, and C) our director reads this blog! When I’m frustrated, I confide in one of those trusted people, and if I deem something important enough to take to a supervisor, I present it in such a way after I’ve had time to cool down and collect my thoughts.
Don’t Burn Bridges
While this is especially pertinent to working in student affairs, it really applies everywhere. Though it’s tempting to send some bridges up in smoke–especially if you’re going through a particularly emotional time in your personal life–the long term ramifications aren’t worth the instant gratification. I mean…shit…I’m Irish, Italian, and a Taurus…when it comes to being a hothead, it runs in my blood (I knowwww they’re three serious stereotypes, but when it’s true, it’s true). As much as it can feel like the complete right thing to do at the time, it is going to come back around eventually. You can cut a cord without burning a bridge.
Choose Your Battles (and do so wisely)
I suppose this falls in line with not burning bridges, but since you can argue with a person without necessarily burning a bridge, I gave it its own category. There are going to be times when you’ll feel extremely challenged, and while you’ll want to fly off the handle, it’s not always worth it. Even when you’re right, the powers that be are only going to see that you’re fighting, not necessarily what you’re fighting for. I mean, shoot, you’ll have the inclination with people at your own level to put them in their place, but unless you see the relationship moving forward from the confrontation, don’t do it. This past weekend I had the opportunity to lay into a coworker who tried to get in my face about something (and to be perfectly honest, a year or two in the past or a glass of wine or two in the future, I might have done it), but there was no point other than the 20 seconds of gratification I would’ve gotten from that person’s speechlessness.
Being authentic can be hard when you realize the way you’ve always done things might not be the best way, but there’s a difference between maturing and losing your authenticity. I am still true to who I am, I’ve just learned that as much as I would like to say every last word that crosses my mind, the negative impact isn’t worth how much I just enjoy what I have. I’ll get good and cliche and end with a quote: “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”