I sat in a class tonight, not my own class, just a class I borrowed for the evening. In this class, there was a speaker skyping in about meaning making in student affairs. As I sat next to a classmate (from my usual Tuesday night class) I remarked to her how odd it was to be discussing spirituality and meaning in such a cerebral and cognitive way. To which my classmate said, “Where are you?!” To the speaker, and it got me to thinking. When I speak, where do I speak from and where do people hear me (but mostly the former). 

Increasingly over the past year I have been more of an open book and more willing to speak from a more meaningful place. The response has been that, in general, I am seen as being very thoughtful, and authentic. My insight has been repeatedly praised and while I could write it off simply as a counseling skill, the truth is I have developed not only a higher capacity for listening but also for hearing. When I listen to people I note their body language, tone, eye contact, syntax, and then their energy. I hear it all with my own body and my reactions those visceral and somatic ones tell me what I’ve heard sometimes regardless of what was said.

But its deeper than that, as we rode home I told her that I missed having class because I know that our class is 3 hours of guaranteed genuine conversation. What I realized that meant was that when we spoke in that class we all spoke from a place much deeper than our intellect. I love connecting so very much that I sometimes wonder where that space will be created in my professional life. As I wrap up my academic career as a student and transition into full time practitioner, will I have the opportunity for heart talks?

It is obviously very important to me that I do, and I think before tonight I may have been very oblivious to that fact. However on this night I was made aware. And perhaps in a roundabout way that was the lesson in all of it. That was the gift. And it may have given me great insight as to how I fit into the world of academia. Nicole mentioned being afraid of being pigeon held (but by yourself) to one lane, one school, one expertise. And god if that happens, let me be painted in your corner. Let everyone know I will be the professor to ask more of them, to expose and unearth, and to love til it hurts. And that shall be my gift.

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