Challenges: Listen to the Musn’ts


“Listen to the mustn’ts, child. Listen to the don’ts. Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me… Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.”

-Shel Silverstein

This poem has some great words. In fact Shel Silverstein often has some great messages for us. His poem Colors also has some beautiful lyrics. Still I would like to focus on this particular one, “Listen to the Musn’ts”. When I first began to consider a career in higher education I was in the midst of my second year at North Carolina State University, working for University Housing as a Resident Advisor in Tucker Residence Hall working in coordination with the First Year College. I was actively involved in the Inter-Residence Council, had just become a member of National Residence Hall Honorary and was serving my first of many terms on the executive board, and had just completed my first summer working for New Student Orientation. I was fighting my way through my second year of an engineering program enjoying the annoying classes like statics and dynamics while also working to complete my English major by reading and writing my way through Writing Theory.

I was sitting in my RDs office during a one on one where I was rather stressed over a week of upcoming midterms. It was at this point that I realized I was in the wrong place. I really loved what I got to do for Orientation and Housing and IRC and NRHH…that was where I really wanted to be. As I was sitting there talking and stressing with my boss, I realized that was exactly what she was studying to do (well, in some very small part). Then and there I decided I wanted to do that. I began looking into graduate programs, professional organizations, any and all information I could get my hands on. I began to talk to family and friends about it. That is why I offer you this poem.

The first people I told of my decision was my then girlfriend and her roommate/best friend. The response was far less than positive. In fact it was more of a negative stance. Neither could understand why I would give up engineering for the “life of a teacher or counselor.” I was given statements about the money and the stress and many more that I can’t even recall. I was told to my face it was a stupid idea. While I did garner support from my family, it was hesitant. There seemed to be a lot of questions on what exactly it was I planned on doing with my life.

Those questions still stand today. During a recent trip to the hospital, people were always impressed when they heard I was in grad school, but that seemed to evaporate when I told them I was studying higher education administration. “So you want to be a principal?” No, that is not the plan. To each new nurse and doctor I would patiently explain that I plan to work in student affairs for a college or university, perhaps a dean of students or Vice president/chancellor/provost of Student Affairs one day. This seemed to satisfy some and others still thought I planned on being a principal. There seems to be an assumptions that only professors work at colleges and universities.

Ultimately, I did take all of this into consideration, just as the poem says. I listened to each and every one of their statements. Then, I had to decide for myself if it was valid and if there was a response for it. For me, I have done exactly that and I am here today a graduate student in higher education administration with my goals and dreams still before me. I know that the road is still long and difficult before me, but as I stated in my post, My Joys in Life, I truly love what I do. I am hooked as a Higher Ed Nerd and have found some amazing friends and family in that area.

You will find your own set of difficulties and challenges in pursuing certain dreams. Yours will certainly differ from mine. But always remember to, “Listen to the musn’ts, child…Anything can happen, child, anything can be.”


About rigsurfer

A Brother of Delta Upsilon International Fraternity, Inc., Joined in Fall 2010. Completed a B.A. in English at North Carolina State University in 2013 and received a M.Ed. in Higher Education Administration at Texas Tech University in 2015. Passionate about Leadership and Diversity as well as Ducks, Scooby Doo, and reading.
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2 Responses to Challenges: Listen to the Musn’ts

  1. rigsurfer says:

    I would like to thank those that did support me as I began to make that transition including Michael Coombes, Kathleen Curp, and Gabe Wical with New Student Orientation, Mindy Sopher, My English Advisor Etta Barksdale, My NRHH advisor at the time Mia Hawlk, my RD Kristin Marley, and my RAs for STATE Mentor Aaron Hood. There have been countless others along the way and I would like to thank each and every one of you as well.

  2. Pingback: CSAM | Rigsurfer's Blog

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