Go with me back to August of 2011.
What were you doing at that time?
For me, it was a hot, sticky day in Tallahassee, Florida.
I had moved to Tallahassee a month earlier in preparation to begin my Master’s program at Florida State University. And, thus far, it had been pretty good.
I had found the essentials of when you move to a new city - a new grocery store, a new doctor, a new nail salon, etc.
I was ready!
Bring it on, grad school!
It may have been 3 years since undergrad, but who cares - I. Was. Ready!
Then came the First Day.
The first day of classes.
The first day of parking on a campus where 40,000 students get a parking pass and there are only 18,000 parking spaces.
The first day of my graduate assistantship.
The first day of my newly chosen career in Higher Education.
It was… not good.
In fact, it was really, really bad.
I was overwhelmed, underprepared, and felt totally bamboozled.
Turns out - I. Was. Not. Ready.
Angry, confused, pissed off, and tearful I called my best friend who was in her Ph.D. program at the time.
The same best friend who encouraged me to apply to grad school.
Who edited my application and Letter of Intent.
Who should have WARNED ME about what I was walking into!
She answered the call (yes I CALLED. I *never* make calls) with a bubbly “omg hi hows your First Day?!!”
I replied, “...Oh! My First Day?
My FIRST DAY?
How’s my FIRST DAY??!!!!
You lied to me, B****! This s*** is awful. I’m not doing it. I’m quitting.”
And I meant it.
She, on the other hand, …….laughed.
She said, “Yeah sweetie, welcome to grad school, everyone wants to quit at some point. And usually multiple times. Albeit it usually takes more than one day, but… you’ll get through it.”
I did not have the blind faith she apparently did.
She continued, “And listen, if you really give it a shot, and you still hate it after your first year, then quit. Because…”
And then she said something really important.
Something I have remembered and referred to many times over the last decade.
Something I fully believe in.
She said, “Because you can do anything for a year.”
I was too emotional at the moment to fully appreciate that philosophy, that beautiful truth.
But it has stuck with me.
Because it has proven to be true over and over again.
You can do anything for a year.
A job that turned out to be way different than expected;
A school or class or training program you dislike;
An organization or team you joined that has dynamics you don’t jive with;
Now the caveat is obviously if something or someone is harmful to you or others then don’t wait a year to remedy that situation.
Handle your stuff.
This is referring to an activity or group which is not damaging but rather is uncomfortable.
Or different than expected.
Or not a good fit.
Or not fun.
Stick it out for a year and see what you can learn from it.
Because where do learning and growth happen...?
Out 👏 Side 👏 Our 👏 Comfort 👏 Zone 👏
The beautiful truth is that the human spirit is impressively resilient and strong.
We are so much stronger than we sometimes give ourselves credit for.
You really can do it for a year.
If you find yourself in one of these situations, as I did on my First Day of grad school, ask yourself these questions:
Who can you meet and connect with?
What skill can you practice or hone with this group?
What information can you gather or learn?
Any experience, even the negative ones (maybe especially the negative ones), can teach us valuable skills or lessons, or bring wonderful people and great connections into our lives!
After that fateful phone call with my best friend in August 2011, I would like to say I calmed down, saw reason, and went home to prepare for what would be a challenging but better Second Day.
But I did not.
I actually looked up the process for student resignation, drove across campus from the Student Union where I worked to the building where the Registrar’s office was, and practiced the conversation I would have with the staff member inside as I resigned as a student.
Literally, the only reason I didn’t rage-quit was because I couldn’t find a parking spot on that entire side of campus…
I did go on to complete my two years of the program and earned my Master’s in Higher Education and Student Affairs from FSU in 2013.
I guess blessings come in all forms - best friends AND full parking lots.