We have reached the final moments of 2019 and I am in the midst of reflecting on the past year and setting goals for the next. 2019 was a rollercoaster of good experiences and not so good ones. I learned from them all and wouldn’t take back any of it. With the help of YearCompass (a helpful reflection and goal setting tool I found out about on LinkedIn), I went through the year week by week. This is what I found!
I ran a 5k and a 10k
I legitimately forgot I did this until I went back through my calendar. I am not a runner by any means. My average time is 12:30/mi…and that’s on a good day. The most I’ve been able to run consistently is 2 miles. My left leg starts hurting after about half a mile without fail. So the fact that I ran, not one, but two races! That was a big friggin’ deal! Okay, fine, I ran most of them and walked some too. Give me a break, I hate running! In fact, if it wasn’t for my colleagues and friends Cathryn and Jenna, I wouldn’t have run at all. Cathryn is our office’s cheerleader, always encouraging and pushing people to be their best. I aspire to be more like her in 2020. And Jenna hated running just as much as me but we ended up supporting and encouraging each other when one of us was less than motivated.
I got a dog
This was a surprise to everyone, even me. I had wanted a dog for so long but I work full time and live in a 1-bedroom apartment. But, after a break up, I threw caution to the wind. I went by my local animal shelter on Easter weekend, just to look, and walked out with a 60 pound pit mix who is now the love of my life. Her name is Rosie, she is the sweetest pup ever and I would 100% die for her! She has been instrumental in my growth as a responsible adult and has made me a more compassionate and patient person.
I explored my creative side
During my first year as an academic advisor, I found I was having a difficult time satiating my need to be creative. At the time, the most creative I thought I could be was when I made promotional flyers on Canva. So, after telling my students over and over to follow their passions and to gain new experiences, I took some of my own advice and applied for an unpaid, 3-month long, 10hr/week minimum internship at a local screen printing studio. I had no idea what screen printing was and realized very quickly that working 10 hours on the weekends on top of my regular 40hr/week job is exhausting. After the first week I was overcome by anxiety, stress and major regret. I wanted more than anything to quit. I told myself that I could do it for one more week and then I would allow myself to quit. I’m so happy I made myself go that extra week because that’s when I met some awesome people, learned how to screen print and fell in love with the art community in my city. I persevered and even though there were most definitely weeks I didn’t want to go, I did and I learned so much. I learned how important art is to the community as an agent of change and a means of bringing the most diverse groups of people together. I heard incredible stories of other studio members who started as interns and now own their own business. And I learned that I’m not just an academic advisor or a higher education professional but that I am also an artist and a valuable member of my community.
I said yes to any professional development opportunity thrown my way
No matter how big or small, if there was an opportunity to learn a new skill or meet new people, I did it. As an introvert who generally shies away from any activity or event that involves people I don’t know, this was a big step for me. I attended trainings across campus, initiated meetings with other offices and joined a new committee.
I also shadowed some of my coworkers‘ classes to pick up new ideas to use in my own courses and I had them shadow me so that they could tell me what I can improve as an instructor. It was an awesome learning opportunity for both parties and I got to see my coworkers in a new setting and see what cool stuff they’re doing to inspire students. From that experience, I had a really meaningful one-on-one with one of my coworkers and found out that they too have been wanting to start a podcast. We are now launching a podcast together in February! Who knew that talking to people actually pays off?!
I also chaired a search committee during one of our busiest times of the semester. This was truly a new challenge because coordinating the schedule of the search committee, the leadership team (I.e. my bosses) and the interviewees was difficult to say the least. And if there is one thing to know about me is that I hate planning anything. I hate planning events, meetings, even small get-togethers with friends…my hate for planning has no limits. So this was truly a feat for me. I got to interview some great candidates, read some great (and not so great) resumes and cover letters and got to connect more with the people on my committee!
I learned that constructive criticism is my kryptonite
This was by far my biggest lesson of 2019. I do not handle constructive criticism well. I instinctively interpret it as a personal attack rather than an opportunity for growth. I also forget that the person giving me the feedback feels just as, if not more, uncomfortable giving it than I do receiving it. I am still a young professional who doesn’t know everything and who has a lot of room for growth and development. I also realized I am lucky to have a supervisor who is understanding and used this as a teachable moment rather than an opportunity to reprimand me. If I ever become a supervisor, I wish to handle challenging conversations in such a compassionate manner.
The most common thread amongst all of these is support from others. I could not have made it through 2019 without the support and encouragement from friends, family, colleagues and even strangers. Here’s to another year of getting out of my comfort zone and meeting new people and reconnecting with old ones.
I learned a lot during 2019 and, upon reflection, there is a lot more growing and learning that will happen in 2020. I for one, am excited about what the next decade will bring. What are some of your 2019 reflections? Share them in the comments!