The day before Thanksgiving my husband and I were able to visit the institution where we each got our start in student affairs and where we met and fell in love. The trip provided an opportunity to reflect on all we have been through, professionally and personally.
Residence life at a small, private institution was a great place to start my professional career. It was my first time supervising. I learned how to physically manage a new-construction building and all its idiosyncrasies. I served as a judicial hearing officer for the most “active” residence hall on campus and thus, had the largest caseload of all my colleagues. As a young and energetic professional, I also volunteered for any and all assignments that would give me experiences and skills outside of my functional area. As such, I advised funding board and several student organizations. I can budget with the best of them. Because of these experiences I was able to transition to student activities| leadership when I moved to my second professional position. For three years, I worked long and hard hours. I said yes, a lot. I created new programs and events and I took risks.
In the span of a career, three years isn’t that much. But it’s not nothing. Visiting the institution where I got my start reminded me of all of these things. It was wonderful to visit with colleagues and mentors and to chat with the VP| Dean who saw something in me and offered me that first job. I think too often in my work, I am so focused on the next step, the next move, that I underestimate what it took to get where I am today. I would guess that I am not alone in this. Life’s messages seem to be telling us that more is better, that to strive for something different or higher or more prestigious is “the” way to be. It is good to have goals. But, in working towards those goals, I think it’s important to take the time to reflect on where I’ve been.
We all have beginnings. I am grateful that my beginning in this profession was a good one. I look back at that time fondly and with gratitude. I would love to hear about your beginnings. Where did you start? How has that position shaped who you are today?
In the second year of my first professional job I fell in love with a coworker. We worked together, we were both Catholic, and he made me laugh. He still makes me laugh. Every day. Since that first date in September of 2000, we’ve been through a lot. More than most couples our age. We dated for two years while under the microscope of a full-time, live-in position. We survived a long-distance engagement and job search process. We have survived eight job changes, graduate school, unemployment, and parenthood. We shepherded our son through a major health crisis, all while staying married and keeping our younger son healthy and normal.
When we began though, we were young, excited, and full of hope. When you think about it, really, we knew very little about each other. I think this is the case for most people. In the span of a married life, there is no way to predict what will come your way. I certainly never thought that I would mother a child through cancer. The only thing that indicates future behavior is past behavior. I think we are lucky and grateful that our past, our beginning, was a good one. We are loyal, honest and we like being with each other. That’s how we started and that is what we keep working for now.
Driving through the small town where we shopped for a coffee table (that we still have), had our first kiss, first fight, first jobs, first everything reminded me of our sweet beginning.