I recently read "A Love Letter to College Freshmen." This was being posted and shared around the internet on Facebook and amongst my higher education/student affairs colleagues. I didn't read it right away, I think partly out of not wanting to give in to the social pressure. Eventually I clicked on a link to it, I believe from someone's Facebook page. What I read inspired me to reflect on my own experience in college and as a college freshman 14 years ago in 1998. It also inspired me to think about the work I have done professionally for the past 9 years supporting college students' development. It also inspired me to think about this new journey for myself in being a PhD student.
At the end of this love letter, Hannah Brencher, writes:
"Sit down during this first week of college… take out a piece of paper… and write it all down. Your hopes & your dreams & your goals for the next four years. Who do you want to become? What do you want to accomplish? It’s time to start all of this. Write it all down. Put it in an envelope. Seal it up and scribble “Do not open until college graduation day,” in big, bold letters. And tuck it somewhere safe…
Get clear on what you want to make of these next four years and then go out and do it…
You’ve got this. You’ve really got this."
This resonated with me in lots of ways. I started to think about what I wanted for my next 3-4 years in this program, during this time and place in my life. So I'm taking the time to write it down and share it with others. I want to be able to reference this in between now and graduation day when I receive my PhD, partly because I think I may some encouragement and reminders along the way. And I want others to read it so they know more about why I'm here and can check in with me, ask about my progress, encourage me, and hold me accountable. I'm sure it's not everything and I'll probably think of more things later but if I don't write it down now I might never get to it.
Here it goes...
- Be open with those I encounter in my program and my classes.Be vulnerable. Learn from them and lean on them. Remember they understand the journey.
- Know when to ask for help and support.
- Find something outside of school to connect with, giving me an escape.
- Find a spiritual outlet with like minded people.
- Get involved in NASPA (which I've been talking about for years), either regionally or nationally
- Present at a national conference
- Publish some of my work/research (not yet ready to say in a journal)
- Continue to develop professionally and attend conferences in the region and nationally (at least 1 per semester), also giving me an opportunity to stay connected to field, keep my name out there in the field, and see colleagues and friends.
- Take advantage of opportunities and do new things. Try new ways to get involved on campus outside of my comfort zone of residence life. But choose wisely, thinking about what will benefit me in the long run. Don't say yes to everything.
- Connect with the master's level students here who remind me why I entered the field and renew my energy and love for student affairs.
- Stay connected to my friends and family who know me best and love me no matter what, making an effort to talk to them regularly.
- Attend a study tour abroad (and visit my mom in Italy if possible after)
- Continue reading for pleasure/fun, even if it's at a slow pace and only a few books a year. (Won't make my goal of 50 books this year, but I might get close with all those library books)
- Remember to take time to laugh and enjoy life.
- Get plenty of sleep.
- Make time for myself to de-stress, rejuvenate and relax. An occasional pedicure is worth the splurge.
- Make working out a normal part of my routine again and continue my journey to lose weight. I've kept off 60 lbs and I'm not going back.
- Stretch my thinking and my ability in the field. Research new things.
- Finish my PhD in the year 2015 and have a full time job as a practitioner in student affairs when I'm done.
- Always remember, "You've got this Abi, You've Really Got This!" (This is one that others can help with the most when I'm stressed or feeling down.)
There it is. Feels good to see it and have my feelings and thoughts out there. Now on to making it happen. Some of these I've started on and others I need to work on and make a priority. I'm thinking I might need to put #20 up in my room somewhere...