@SAFirstYears Post: Becoming Interesting

My third @SAFirstYears blog post – published date of 2/8/2012:

We all have fears.  Perhaps yours is ‘failure’ or disappointing someone.  Maybe it is making a really big mistake or having hideous bulletin boards around your halls. Possibly it is not challenging your students as much as you are supporting them, or vice versa.

While I also share these fears, being boring frightens me.  I know I am not good with telling impromptu stories or pulling interesting facts out at a moment’s whim.  When I talk with someone, I need to share from a personal and genuine level based on my experiences.

As I entered into my second year of graduate school, I realized I had been involved with so many student affairs jobs/roles/positions/initiatives for my entire college and graduate school careers, I did not have much beyond those experiences and knowledge to share about myself.  Sure, I had other interests, but I had not developed them or put effort into discovering new information or talents which inspired me.  My student affairs specific knowledge always makes for great conversations with family and friends who don’t quite understand why I live in a residence hall after seven years.  (Sarcasm.)  These involvements kept me motivated throughout my undergraduate years.  I was constantly busy, and even having a unique major and minors (Merchandising and Business/Math) provided an opportunity to connect with new people. Once I started graduate school, it became more focused.  I decided I needed to branch out and spend time developing my interests.

As my second year of graduate school thickened with ‘thesising’ and job searching, I knew my ability to further my interests outside of my chosen career and class work was diminishing, simply based on lack of time.  But I still resolved to become more interesting.  I was also concerned with what I planned to do with my time upon graduation.  What the heck was I going to do when I did not have to go to class, write multiple multiple-page papers, do research, and read thirty books a semester?   The fear wasn’t only about being boring, but more about being bored.

So I made a list on an excel document.  It’s titled Hobbiesand is still saved on my desktop.

While I may not have grown in every area I outlined over a year ago, I am happy to say awareness of what my first year would look like without academic commitments made a difference as I job searched and arrived to Colorado.  I am now involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters; I have started learning how to sew; I attend classes weekly at a local Pilates studio; I am training for a half marathon; I teach Step classes at the Student Recreation Center, and most recently, I got certified to be a personal fitness trainer.  Not only have I explored personal interests, I have also expanded mywork interests in the Student Affairs realm by being on an AIMHO (Association of Inter-Mountain Housing Officers) committee, connecting to other SA pros via twitter, and am writing for this blog.

Someone once told me, “It is always good to have a few stories in your back pocket for cocktail parties.”  (As my cocktailattire doesn’t have back pockets, I’ll keep my stories in my dress pocket.  Dresses with built in pockets are officially the most epic dresses.)  And whether or not you attend cocktail parties, (casually carrying both your personal and duty phones), I think this actually pertains to life: as human beings, we are multi-faceted individuals who have the capacity for a variety of interests, passions, and skills.  Sharing who we are and what we do is imperative to connecting with other people.

In an attempt to ensure I became more interesting, my growing interests have definitely helped me connect with both students and professionals beyond the day-to-day work, which has actually made me a better SA professional.  And I, by no means, am bored.

Katie Schmalzel
@katieschmalzel

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