I am my Label(s)

And, I’m not my labels.

Recently, I began a Supervisory Leadership program which uses the DiSC personality assessment. I tested as pretty solid Conscientious  which shouldn’t surprise anyone familiar with the tool or who reads the description. Now, please know that this was geared specifically toward my work life–I wouldn’t be surprised if I tested slightly toward Steadiness (possibly a CS) if I took the test in a more all-encompassing manner. As we discussed our DiSC Personality, I found that I was also thinking about My MBTI, Multiple Intelligence, and True Color (see the bottom of the post for graphics of each). Looking at all of this together, one can get a fairly solid idea of how I should act in many situations, the kind of work I do, and the types of relationships I have.

Labels are a difficult concept to me. A lot of people hate personality assessments because they don’t tell a complete story, that labels are only a small part of who a person is. I absolutely agree, but only to a point. As I told Amma when I answered her call for stories from Introverts, I’m also shy–painfully so–and have anxiety/depression, which makes my exponentially more than most other I’s I know. A single label of Introvert isn’t enough for someone to really understand me

I think there is just as much danger in over-labeling as there is in not understanding the labels we hold. Once, at a high school/college LGBT conference, I attended a popular session on Labels, Identity & the Kinsey scale.  The facilitator asked for our sexuality/gender identity labels as part of the intro piece. Some of the participants had labels that were 10 or more words long. I’ve since grown to understand just how fluid sex/sexuality/gender (like many things in our lives) is, but still feel some of these young people (most of us were between 16 and 20) had labeled themselves into the tiniest box ever.

I’m relatively comfortable with who I am, which comes from trying to 1) understand the various labels I identify with & 2)understand what each means to both me and those around me. When I say that I identify as a feminine woman, I mean that I am relatively comfortable with my female body, and wear feminine clothing. I rarely however wear skirts or dresses, and will only put on makeup if I’m going to a wedding or such. To some people however, I am “not very feminine” due to my aversion to dressing up and being able to count my shoes on my own two hands. I know this, and [mostly] embrace who I am because I combine all of the various “me’s” into a single person. My labels do identify me, but only because I let them work together to create a whole, unrestricted picture.

Click to view my Personality Profile page

True Color’s Test – What is your TRUE personality?
Gold

People who are GOLD as their primary color like to fit in or belong. They tend to be reliable people who enjoy serving others. Things that are very important to them are tradition, home and family. They need order and structure, and are loyal and generous by nature. They are comfortable with rules and routine, and require punctuality and organization. They don’t like waste or change. They tend to plan ahead.

Facebook quizzes & Blog quizzes by Quibblo

New Year, New Process

For the last two years, I participated in One Word 365. 2013 focused on Here. Now; 2012 was about Focus. I’ve been thinking about what word I want to pick for 2014, or even if I WANT to participate this year, as I don’t feel I did a very good job the last two years.

The other day, I made plans with a friend I haven’t seen since my wedding almost a year and a half ago. We’ve lived in the same town since June; there is no excuse for that. When I do actually make plans, I become overwhelmed because I’ve made plans every weekend for an entire month or two (this includes non-friend plans like Girl Scouts, seeing family, errands, etc). I’ve been living under two extremes, and it’s not healthy for oh so many reasons.

So, I am making an actual, bona fide Resolution this year: I will see at least one friend per month. This resolution has a couple of rules attached to it to make it measurable:

  • At least one of us must have specifically brought up the idea of seeing each other; it can’t be a chance meeting
  • This is in addition to the 2 trips I already have planned with friends
  • At least half those I reach out to must be people I don’t already see on a semi-regular basis

So far, I’m off to a good start–the next 2 weeks are actually pretty full: Thursday night, 2 different people on Sunday, and next Friday. February has one definite and 2 tentative plans; March has one definite plan.

 

With a Little Bit of Help from my Network

Only once have I left a job for another: my first job out of undergrad, and no one expected me to stay long. I was in that second job for almost 5 years before returning to school for my M.S. As of last Friday, I have successfully completed a job search that took up the better part of the past year; I start at UMASS – Boston in a few weeks as Graduation Coordinator in the Registrar’s Office.

As I looked for my new job, I happily tweaked and re-tweaked my resume for each application, excited to show how my tasks and projects fit my potential new role. Inevitably, my resume became good enough, and my heart sank as I came to the next stage: THE COVER LETTER (read that in a deep, doomy voice).

I loathe cover letters. Maybe it’s my J, but really, why isn’t my resume good enough? Alright, I get it, but not enough to be happy about it. For this latest search, I reached out to @ceciliah & @ammamarfo, 2 women I respect for their professionalism and writing abilities, and asked them to review my letter. This was much more nerve-wracking than one might think–I have trouble asking for help, and KNEW it was terrible, so I felt I was bothering both of these people I respect personally and professionally. Both were gracious and incredibly helpful however, and garnered these replied from me:

“It’s funny how, as I read your comments/edits, I kept saying ‘wow, why didn’t I think of that?'”

“I think I’m too close & dis-enchanted to really make it sound like this job was special, which in turn makes me seem unspecial”

Then, THE INTERVIEWS

I’m always terrified to interview. My wife wishes she could interview for me because I’m terrible at talking to new people and am downright horrific about tooting my own horn. Thankfully, right before I began the round of post-house purchasing interviews, I read the most amazing and important bog post by AnneMarie Klotz:  The Things We Do Not Say…and Why It Hurts Our Profession. The first half of her post: Nailed It thanks to my coaches. I’m sure AnneMarie would provide a lot of feedback and critique if I were to practice interview with her, but I dug deep and found my truths, which I think helped me land this job.

Why am I making this post, and linking to all of these women? Because it illustrates a few things:

  • A Network is important: and a network does not necessarily mean in person. Almost all interaction I have with Amma is virtual; I have never met Annemarie in my life (I have the benefit of [currently] working in the same office as Cecilia). Following people on Twitter, or reading their blogs can actually influence your life for the better. Sometimes the help is direct, sometimes indirect, but be open to learning something
  • Ask for help: I will always struggle with this, but this experience has made strides in reminding me how important it is to get others’ opinions and ideas. I have a lot of trouble with group projects and collaborations, but in the right instances and with the right people, magic can happen
  • BE YOU: I admitted my struggles in the job search department to these women, and they embraced me and lifted me up. That encouraged me to be forthcoming in my interviews with my real weaknesses not those I thought the interviewer wanted to hear.
  • Pay it back/forward: I’ve since helped 2 people with their resumes, have offered to serve as a reference to 2 others, and will do so again if/when the opportunity arises. Networking is a big struggle for me, but small gestures cultivate relationships and empower both the giver and receiver.

How has your network benefited you in ways you didn’t expect? Have you actually used and/or cultivated your network?

[AEP] Yahoo! Groups

Date Earned: April 9, 2013

Step(s) Completed (click badges to view pages):

ExploreY!Groups

Explore Yahoo! Groups: 40+ hours

CreateYahoo! Groups: 40+ hours

Create Yahoo! Groups: 40+ hours

  • Create an account (Yahoo! ID)
  • Browse
  • Search by keywords
  • Join a group . . . or three
  • Learn the group
  • Features
  • Your main screen
  • View groups
  • Controlling mail
  • More editing
  • Leaving a group
  • Group categories
  • Group settings
  • Security
  • Messages / mail
  • Files
  • Links
  • Database
  • Members
  • Calendar
  • Invite people

Before the days of Facebook and Google+, we had Yahoo! Groups to bring together large numbers of people with similar interests. The one aspect of my life I was (and still am) a heavy user of Y!Groups is my religious community. When you worship the gods of ancient Greece, it’s tough to find co-religionists at all, let alone near enough to commune with. Hence spending the last 10 years as a member of about 20 different groups as they rise and fall in popularity and the owners wax and wane with attentiveness.  I helped some friends create and run a group several years ago, and I’ve managed several larger groups that needed extra moderators. Girl Scouts have long been active with Y!Groups as well; volunteers share information and program ideas, provide virtual shoulders to cry on, and celebrate accomplishments for our girls and ourselves.

One of the most interesting things about Y!Groups that I don’t notice as much in Facebook Groups was the camaraderie and relationships developed. Maybe it’s because we weren’t keeping up with a dozen different social media sites, and had fewer ways communicate with each other (email lists and instant messenger, that was about it), we took more time to read and respond. Some of my Y!Groups have transitioned to Facebook, and it definitely has advantages (no need to trim posts of old content!, quicker response time), but I feel like, much of the time, there’s less depth to comments, and storing files/information is clunky (yup, that’s a technical term) at best.

One of the things my Y!Groups experience has given is an ability to focus on what is important to me. When I first started joining groups, I read everything, even the topics I wasn’t interested in just in case. I was afraid to miss out. Over time, the emails became too frequent and I skimmed titles/the first sentence or two to decide if it was pertinent. This greatly reduced my amount of stress about “keeping up” and allowed me to learn those things that mattered. This definitely laid a foundation for the increased use/frequency/overload of social media, and I am much more discerning about who/what I will follow, and HOW. Some things, like blogs, I won’t follow on Facebook/G+ because I’m not guaranteed to see those posts due to the algorithms or whatever–all blogs are in Feedly. Other people/products are well served through other platforms. Y!Groups was the only option for communicating with others on a larger scale for a long time, and it helped shaped how I consume the internet.

What IS Behind the Curtain?

In Time to let them see behind the curtain. Are we overselling a career in Student Affairs?, Tim St. John asked “What was your path to Student Affairs like?  Were you prepared for your work?  Any surprises?  Share your story.”

One of the concepts beaten into highly promoted in my Advanced Student Affairs Theory course was storytelling–our story informs who we are. So, when I went to answer Tim’s questions, I knew it would warrant more than just a comment.

My path was a little different from most. I discovered that Student Affairs was something I could actually do for a living about 6 months before graduation–before that, I just thought the staff I worked with on RHA and in the Campus Center just happened to fall into a pretty cool job. I didn’t have time to experience any kind of mentoring, let alone the deep mentoring Tim was able to experience. Once, as part of the Gay/Straight Alliance, the e-board was invited to meet with the Board of Trustees as part of a bid by the Campus Center & Student Activities to get more support–the biggest groups were given half hour meetings to discuss what we were doing with our money & how we benefited the school. This was probably the coolest thing I did as an undergrad, and gave me a little insight into how things work.

Higher Education is not all parties and icebreakers (for the record, I loathe icebreakers, and ‘woo’ is as far outside of my vocabulary as a word can get when one understands the meaning of a word). It’s not even all advising and mentoring students. For 5 years, I worked in benefits at Brandeis–I’m not sure I could have had less student contact, but everything we did was driven by student needs in staffing and faculty. Today, I work in Registration, and can safely say that I am the only person I know in this functional area (other than my counterparts and colleagues in other BU schools); even my Twitter feed is empty of other Registration people (as far as I know). Obviously people are finding their way into this area, but how?

Honestly, I’m happy I found this position as it’s MUCH more in line with my strengths and personality than a job in, say, Student Activities or Res Life would have been. But I can also honestly say I would not have thought this was “Student Affairs-y enough” if I hadn’t finished my MS in 2011 when the job market was so terrible. I’d like a little more student contact sometimes, but I get plenty, and most interactions allow me to put my education to work, actually helping students matriculate and proceed to graduation.

Student Affairs is a lot bigger than Res Life, Orientation and Student Activities, and future SAPros don’t often get to see these ‘hidden’ areas and duties until they are well-invested in the field with a master’s degree and suddenly tasked with creating a budget; or sitting in committee meetings for 3 days a week; or find that working in Orientation as a summer intern is way different than doing it 40 hours/week for 50 weeks a year.

How can we teach these skills to future SAPros? Should we? Do SAPros need a Masters in the field, or is there room for other educations levels/types?

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