Don't go it alone
Dec. 6, 2017
Sure, I like to think I’m a strong, independent woman who has the gumption to succeed in a lot of different ways, but I certainly didn’t get here on my own. Because sometimes I still feel like a scared, nervous, inexperienced kid who doesn’t have what it takes, and I need the support of others. Sometimes I’m down and need others to lift me up. Sometimes I’m too excited and need an anchor to bring me back to earth. No one succeeds by strictly going it alone. We all need help now and then.
When I overheard a few of our student interns talking about how hard “adulting” is, I explained to them that a lot of the time we’re all just faking it. No, really. Well, at least I am. I’m still a kid (well, more like teenager) inside trying to make sense of adult responsibilities. I told them I thought there would be a magic time I felt completely self-assured as an adult, but I certainly haven’t gotten there yet.
This past Monday I celebrated my work anniversary at MSU. I swear, one day I was the new kid on the block and then I blinked, and all of a sudden, I’ve been here longer than almost everyone in the office. How did that happen? Well, it certainly didn’t happen by myself. I’ve been surrounded by incredible colleagues who have taught, mentored and guided me along the way. Many have supported me through personal challenges as well as professional ones. Like I said, no one goes it alone.
A few times in my life, I’ve needed a bit more professional support. You don’t get a life-changing health diagnosis or survive a major cardiac event without needing to work through some stuff. I’m not ashamed to admit I couldn’t do it on my own and it’s no knock on anyone in my traditional support system to say I needed something more. Luckily, I had a great counselor (a Spartan, of course) who had expertise in the emotional side of physical health events. Yeah, I definitely wasn’t going to go that one alone.
Bethany Huot is a really cool researcher in the Plant Research Laboratory who is a strong believer in the value of a great support system. She took a fascinating path to get to MSU – including moving 22 times before she was a teenager. She admits that grad school was rough but once she realized she didn’t have to go it alone, she reached out to her “extended family” and built a community of support. Read her FACULTY VOICE: Diversions, to learn more about how she never let diversions become distractions.
Liz Schondelmayer is an intern in my office at CABS and a College of Social Science Scholar. She’s ridiculously talented, and I’ve loved working with her this semester. She asked me if she could write a column about surviving finals week and gave me a beautifully written, honest letter to her fellow students about insecurities, self-doubt and disappointment. Even if you’re not a student, read her STUDENT VIEW: Dear fellow student, to learn more about the life advice she offers.
One of the great things about being a Spartan is that you are simply never alone. There are literally more than half a million of us in the world. No matter what you need, there is certainly a Spartan who can help. Not only can they help, but they will. Spartans are always at the ready to jump in and find a way to make the world a better place. To sum this up, I’m going to quote Liz’s letter because I couldn’t say it any better myself. “Regardless, take care of each other. Take care of yourself. Finish the semester strong, and remember that, as Spartans, we’re all in this together.” Spartans Will.
Photo by Kurt Stepnitz