I'd like to think that I am an advocate for social justice, inclusion, and learning. Am I always perfect at all of these things? Definitely not. But I'm open to being challenged, to acknowledging misteps, and to growing from the experience.
I've been reflecting on a conversation we had in class a few weeks ago regarding the desire within student affairs to create inclusive environments for all people. In that conversation, the statement was made on whether our inclusivity silences the "exclusive" voices. In thinking about that statement, I wondered, "Where/How do those view points fit in the work that we do?"
I stand by my belief in the detrimental consequences that occur when there is lack of recognition in the unearned access and resources, or privilege, we have. I think I'd be remiss to overlook that. But I've thought about what that means in spaces like a student affairs classroom, where certain voices that are often "the loudest" in our society go unheard in that space. Is it not the point for us to learn from one another?
As some of y'all may or may not know, I decided I was in need of a lifestyle change. I was feeling down, had low energy, and really the biggest motivator was that my wardrobe options were decreasing as the weight and inches were increasing. So about 5 weeks ago, I jumped on to the fitness train and have been along for the ride ever since. I have an awesome #fitfam among peers in my program and they have been the best encouragers and training partners. Early morning work outs are so much easier when you have friends sweating it out at your side. #SAfit!!! (Which means Student Affairs Fit. We have a lot of acronyms.)
So I've had a million and one thoughts running through my head over the last few months and have, regretfully, not taken the time to sit and type them so I'm starting with this little adventure that has been sitting with me since April and will do my best to pick up from there!
Back in April, I went on a little trip to Miami to present with some wonderful ADPi sisters. It was a quick trip, left on a Thursday, came back Friday night and that Saturday I was flying up to Boston to spend a little less than 48 hours with my momma. That may give you a little time of the crazy travel crunch I was in. (I felt like a Sister of the Suitcase again)
We were roughly 15 minutes from the airport but if you've ever lived in a city like Miami, you know that a 15 minute drive can take much longer. It took us 45. Needless to say, I was having a mini-anxiety attack as we were driving to the airport and mentally preparing myself for what would happen if I missed my flight. I was flying in to a smaller airport and ya'll know how difficult it can be to get to one after a missed flight.
We arrive at the airport about 45 minutes before my flight. I'm like great, I have no bags to check, the security line is short, this will be a piece of cake. I get through security and still have 30-35 minutes to spare but I realize that signage for my Terminal was NO WHERE to be found. Now that panic is starting to creep up again. I asked an airport employee where the Terminal was and he says "Oh, it's wayyyy down there. Walk that way and when you eventually see this store, you'll make a left."
Great. Here I am still wearing my name tag, heels, and presentation outfit walking as fast as I can. If you've been to the Miami airport, you know that it's pretty big, too. I end up seeing a shuttle sign to my terminal before I see this store so I hop on it and follow the signs to my gate. I'm thinking, yes! I'm going to make it. Well I head up to take yet another train to my terminal but when I head to the stop, there is no one around. I head back down an escalator to ask an employee and she sends me in a different direction. As I'm walking that way, I quickly realize that she misheard me and head back to where I was. I wait for this train again for what feels like forever (it was 4 minutes), and hop on it. When I get to the terminal, there is NO ONE around. Stores are closed, it looks like it hadn't be used in a while. It's about 15 minutes until my flight is about to take off. I start to panic.
I RUN back to the train which luckily hadn't left yet, hop back on, and look at a monitor only to realize the gate on my ticket was incorrect! At this point I'm panicking and angry. How could it have been wrong on my boarding pass when it was so close to the flight? I run to the gate and at this point, it's the time my flight is supposed to leave. I know that I missed it and realize that everyone is looking at me like I'm a crazy person for running back and forth. I walk up to the gate agent and say "I missed the flight didn't I?"
"We can get you on!"
I AM BEYOND RELIEVED. In that moment, those were the best words I'd ever heard in my life. I hand him my boarding pass which he scans and says "This is the wrong one, do you have the one for this flight?" I had been looking at the wrong gate THE WHOLE TIME.In my anxiety, panic, and impatience, I didn't take the time to read my boarding pass to ensure I was going to the right place. In all that frustration and hurry, I let myself nearly miss my flight after running past the correct gate 4-5 times. Had I taken the time pause, breathe, and stay calm, I would've realized my mistake from the beginning or avoided it altogether.
So why am I sharing this with you? I think it served as several important reminders and lessons for me but the biggest one was this:
We can't always control everything that happens in our life, and that's okay.
What you can control is how you think, feel, and react to it. In that moment, I did exactly what I shouldn't have done. I didn't trust the process or control my emotions. I allowed myself to be overwhelmed with the situation therefore causing me a lot of unnecessary stress.
I think this is something that is so easy to forget when we're in the work place, volunteering, taking on leadership roles, and even with ourselves. This somewhat simple (but also really hard to actually do) concept can save us a lot of grief, help keep a positive environment, help us maintain relationships with our colleagues/peers, and keep us motivated in our own growth and development.
I'm sure you all have experienced something similar to this life lesson at some point but I hope this helps serve a reminder for you like it did for me.
Patience is a thing and I'm working on it. Everyday.
In an old post, I once mentioned that I had learned the importance of forgiveness and how to just let things go. It's always so interesting to look back at what I've written in the past. I still stand by what I said. I'm pretty good at letting things go and not dwelling on negativity. But the tables have turned a little. In that post, I challenged readers to rethink some of that resentment/anger/etc. they may be holding against others. I've been thinking about it A LOT lately and realize that I need to take my own advice.
Y'all, I've been holding on to some not so great feelings for longer than I care to admit. I've been thinking about writing this post for a good while but I kept delaying it and blaming it on not having enough time (which is still true...I have some reading and work to do but it was time for this post) or wanting to post about other things but really, I was avoiding what I know I need to do. Forgive. I am definitely guilty of holding on to some anger and resentment. I was somewhat in denial about it until I realized the little things that would trigger those feelings and take me two steps back after taking a step forward.
I kept making excuses for my feelings.
"I feel wronged"
"It wasn't fair"
"They weren't honest"
Then, it was "I can't move on until I've had a conversation with them and reconciled."
What I'm coming to understand once again is that holding on to these feelings isn't affecting anyone but me. And definitely not in a good way. By holding on to these feelings, I'm letting others take up precious space in my heart and mind when they're probably not thinking twice about how their actions have impacted me. I've realized that I can't wait for the conversation, for the apology, or for a person to change but what I can do is take control of how I feel about it.
About a month ago, we had a message all about forgiveness which, per usual, came exactly when I needed it. I've been thinking about it constantly since then but I've been struggling with the next step. This hasn't been an easy to place to reach and I know I'm still not quite where I want to be. I thought that by the time I wrote this post, I would be past it all which is not the case but I know that I'm much further than I was. So this is me accepting the challenge I gave to my readers almost three years ago.