I think many would agree that Student Affairs is a fairly social field to work in. SA professionals and grads work with multiple departments, attend meetings all over campus, answer phone calls or emails, classes, and even attend a number of programs. Not to mention the after hours socials and get-together that will be planned to de-stress from the day. Sometimes these things can all happen in the span of one day, but what happens when you’re more of an antisocial person?
Maybe antisocial is not the exact word, but as someone who identifies as an introvert I value my time after work and during the day. When the job requires it, I can be the active and social person needed to get the job done and thus many do not realize how tiring it can be for me. I have found lately with my internship that I need more and more time to myself. After my office hours I am drained from meeting new people and getting to know more of the campus. I have noticed recently that, with the growing number of socials planned by current employees, I find myself having to make excuses or ignore invites to gathers.
Sometime I wonder if I can survive in this field with my introvert personality (and with a side of anxiety). My career goal is to change the field and leave my impact on the way SA works, but can I do that without being as social as others. I feel like I am lying to my co-workers or missing out by not going out. There even has been times I have to disclose my anxiety when I didn’t in fear of people thinking I do not like them. I am troubled that I am losing valuable connections to others in this field.
This is false. After reflection and looking at my current relationships with fellow SA professionals and grads, I see that I just have my own way of making the connections I need. Having lunch with coworkers, stopping by an office, working on a committee project with another person are all ways I have found to build connections without feeling stressed out over big group events. It allows me to socialize and get to know others without sacrificing my own time to be alone. It also helps me become comfortable with people so when I do go out for larger group events. I am able to relax more and focus on having fun without worrying about talking to everyone.
It is so important within SA to keep yourself healthy in mind and in body. For me that means taking the time I need for myself to de-stress and find a calm within me. I understand that there will be some nights I just will not be able to take that time and I am OK with that. It comes with being in such a social and interactive field. I hope that as I grow and learn more about myself I will find myself more at peace with being social and enjoying the time with others.
As for those who also experience this dilemma of wanting to make important connections, but needing to take a fair amount of time to themselves, I have some advice. First, do not make excuse or feel like you are lying. You need to take care of yourself and no one should question or need to know why you do. Second, slowly build up a level of comfort with coworkers around you so you can start to join in on bigger gatherings without feeling unsafe or out of place. Third, challenge yourself to do one uncomfortable thing a month, week, or day. I find it tricks my mind into understanding that I can do these things without forcing myself to go to fast or slow. I move at the pace I feel I am ready for that week or day.
Til next time ❤
**Comment below how you deal with anxiety or how you find time for yourself in this odd hours job!**