I’ve had an interesting week. It has been a long one and brought me down and up in a number of ways. I would like to express some thoughts and learning on one of those.
I began my graduate career in the position I am as a bright eyed, bushy tailed person thrilled and excited about being a Student Affairs Professional. In the past few months, I have begun to see that it is still a profession. I began as a Fraternity and Sorority Life Grad Assistant because I wanted to change the view of FSL in the non-FSL world. As I got involved, I began to learn that many of these ideas exist for a reason, and so I began to feel that it was more about changing the culture. Life is not the easiest thing, and these stories that you hear do happen and they are not always easy to fight. What appears in writing and how someone tells you to handle a situation are not always the same. There are many reasons for this. Watching it happen really began to eat away at me, especially as someone whose own experience was incredible and my values from it are the opposite of my experience. To be told to do something that is in opposition to a value is not only hard, but difficult, and disturbing.
With all of this eating away at me, I began to become very depressed and upset. I felt lost in my career choice and depressed. Let me clarify: I do not believe that everyone’s FSL experience should be like mine. That would eliminate the point and purpose of us having different people and different chapters. I feel that an FSL experience should be meaningful, positive, and serve to challenge you to grow and improve yourself and the chapter. Hazing and Alcohol have become mainstays and headaches in FSL and it is disheartening when things cannot be done about them.
So with my spirits in the dumps and my faith in my ability to improve it, I became very depressed. Then a few wonderful people in my life brought me around:
1) One friend said that if anyone could do something to change it, it was me. That meant a lot more than I think she will ever really know and it reminded me of the importance of having someone around who will support you. This person always has a way of making me smile and helping me get back on my feet. Having someone believe in you can make a world of difference.
2) My dad, when we talked, asked why that image was, why I wanted to change it, and what I was doing. He informed me that there was that image out there and I had to know it and admit it to change it. Having someone who can challenge you and keep you grounded in your effort is important. Ideals are wonderful, but without action, a purpose is merely that.
3) A mentor and wonderful woman kept encouraging thinking outside of the box. She made me think of new ways to continue my efforts that may not be flat out shot down. She gave me ideas and advice such as the fact that as life goes, you have to choose your battles. Someone like that, always willing to help you and offer intuitive ideas from their own experience and otherwise are beneficial.
4) My girlfriend sat and let me rant, then gave me a hug. It made me feel like I was doing something right and I appreciate it. Her faith in me means a ton.
With all that said, I will be continuing my work, fighting for a future where FSL is once again beneficial and relevant to campus life, not just some chapters. With the help of friends and family, it is important to fight for what you believe in. Change can happen. Believe in your goal.