I am so honored and excited to begin my second semester of being Associated Students President. This position has challenged me in all the best possible ways. It felt like I was learning a new life lesson every week, which is equally exhausting and life giving at the same time. Here are some lessons I learned that I will share with next year’s president elect (and my spring semester self for that matter).
Find your happy place. This type of job will stretch you and shrivel you up to degrees you never thought possible of a student. Find your happy place, know when you need to go there, and allow yourself to block out everything else when you are there. It might be at the center of your yoga mat, cracking open a cold one with your best friend, or watching the sunset. Whatever it is, treasure it because at times it will feel like the only thing that will keep you sane.
Don’t bite the hand that feeds you. Working with administration can be empowering yet daunting. But you can’t survive without them, and vice versa. It may seem like those professionals haven’t been in your shoes for ages, but that also means it isn’t their first time around the block. Lean on the GAs for a more relatable perspective if need be.
Find a critical friend. This piece of advice was given to me by one of my good friends and colleagues at the beginning of my term. This usually isn’t the same person you ask if that pair of jeans makes your butt look big because you need to find someone who will be brutally honest with you and bring you back down from planet crazy. Mine has saved me from a mutiny.. or two.
The top is lonely. I tried to avoid clichés, but this one rings truer than true. No one will understand the situations, predicaments, expectations, and responsibilities placed on you. Only your predecessors will understand. Use them. I didn’t lean on them enough.
The office is a vortex. Beware. I succumbed to the luxury and ease of having a place to block out the real world and get down to business. There were far too many late nights (err early mornings) at the office where I lost myself in the work. Always remember that your work is to be with the students, and you can’t do that if you’re locked up in your office.
Don’t take it personally. When that guy in your accounting class is in a toga costume is running down Mission Blvd don’t get down that you represent him. When someone tells you they haven’t found their niche or doesn’t feel like your school is home don’t take it personally. Instead use the resources you’ve been equipped with over your college career to help them figure out what’s best for them.
Managing People is Difficult. It will sometimes feel easier to just do the work yourself, but that isn’t helpful for you or your supervisee. Instead, use these times as a “teach a man/woman to fish” moment so they know how to do better next time (without you).
People won’t believe you don’t have a parking spot. “No way!” They’ll say. “You spend more hours here than most of the faculty” they’ll say. “But really, you can tell me you have one” they’ll say. To set the record straight, there is no presidential parking privilege. I dread the West Lot as much as any other student.
Change doesn’t happen in a year. This position will often feel like climbing a mountain and you won’t ever get to the top. Those big ideas your promised constituents during the campaign might not come to fruition for another 2, 5 or 10 years. But recognize your place in the larger picture and always keep climbing.
Pray, a lot. I like this one: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.
Even when giving your best doesn’t seem like enough, it is. Truth.
You wouldn’t want to be doing anything else but this. There is a reason why you are here and not someone else. The stress, shenanigans and fun are all a part of the job and it makes sense. You can’t picture spending your senior year any other way. Plus, it’s a pretty cool gig.