Not so long ago, in an office with a Safe Zone sticker on the door . . . SA Wars: The Darkness Within. In this SA Wars series, I’ve focused on the battles we wage in student affairs, often with others, who should be campus partners. In this post, I turn the attention back on ourselves. In our efforts to prove our worth, and stake our claim to students and their learning, we can lose focus on ourselves. And I don’t mean understanding who we are as a field. This time, I’m talking about each of us as individuals.
As I’ve reflected on my previous posts in this SA Wars series, the more I come back to issues that lie within us. I doubt that imposter syndrome is unique to student affairs, but we sure do talk about it a lot. And we should. That’s my point. We should talk about the ways in which we feel like imposters.
There’s a darkness with in, but it’s fed from outside of ourselves. It could be messages from friends and family – my grandmother said “at least you have your business degree to fall back on” when I shared I was going to grad school for student affairs. Faculty question what we do, and in lean budget times, what value we add. We feel like we need to keep count of every student who comes in our office, so we have data to show our worth. These are all real. Sure, some of it can be met with explaining what student affairs is and does, but the issue persists: we experience self-doubt.
So, how do we overcome the Darkness Within? We have to keep talking about it. We have to engage in constructive conversations that can help us move forward. We need to have these conversations on our campuses, within individual divisions of student affairs. Professional development offerings have to be structured to allow for engagement around these issues and concerns. Part of the reason the Darkness Within persists is because we don’t talk about in those spaces on our own campuses.
Is this already happening on your campus? Are you having structured conversations around these concerns? I’d love to hear from you and share examples!