If I had to describe this week in two words, I’d say, “THE MOST!” Okay, I need three words, “THE ABSOLUTE MOST!” This week I’ve fired off several “Urgent Response Needed” emails, missed a couple of meetings because I was double booked and not paying close attention to my calendar, cashed in several “I need a favor” points with key partners across campus to resolve pressing student issues, counseled students through “life after academic termination,” wrote appeal decisions, prepared annual performance evaluations for my staff, and on and on and on. At one point, I found myself saying, “For my next trick, I’m going to need a volunteer…”
At times, life, work, and play can feel magical, especially in the Student Affairs profession, as we explore every possible avenue to get to a “yes” answer for students when they are distressed, need an exception, or have simply messed up and don’t know how to fix it. We put on our capes and pull rabbits out of hats. We go just that hard for YOU, although it may not always show. But this week I was also reminded of the words expressed by actor, humanitarian, and super woke activist, Jesse Williams, during the 2016 BET Awards, (albeit in a different context) yet still relevant here, “Just because we’re magic, doesn’t mean we are not real.” Real as in, just like you, we have these multiple intersecting identities that at times may appear compatible or at conflict at any given moment. We, too, identify as working professionals, students, caregivers, siblings, partners, sons and daughters, engaged citizens, and friends. Although we privilege our “working professional” identity in the workplace, it doesn’t mean those other identities suddenly disappear, and sometimes we, too, have to be honest with ourselves and give ourselves permission, guilt free, to attend to some of those other identities, because as much as we like to think of ourselves as magical, it doesn’t mean that we are not real. We feel. We love. We hurt.
As the semester continues to ramp up, I encourage you to reflect on your multiple, intersecting identities and how they may impact your success as a student. Are you privileging your student identity? Are some of your other identities currently in conflict with your student identity? How are you managing these identities?
Mason strives to be a model well-being university, in which members of the university community are “thriving across a range of domains (physical, career, social, community, psychological and financial) and being satisfied with one’s life while experiencing curiosity, hope, meaning and joy.” I invite you to explore the Well-Being University Initiative and reflect on how you’re promoting well-being, while managing your multiple, intersecting identities and check out some of the well-being resources and services offered at the university.
Challenge yourself to simply BE, and BE the BEST at it. That’s all for now.
Dr. Ivory Berry, also known as “Dr. Get-Your-Life-Together,” is the Assistant Dean for Student Success for the College of Education and Human Development. He shares his no-nonsense wisdom every day in the Office of Student and Academic Affairs, and occasionally, here on the Student Success Blog.