Lost in what could certainly be described as a quarter life crisis, I sent my work wife, Annie, a message and asked her if she had time to talk; “I need to think out loud,” she called and this was the result of our conversation.
I explained to her how nothing has ‘stuck’ when it comes to work surrounding my dissertation and I felt as though I was missing something. There must be a thread between each of my abandoned topics, but I cannot figure out what the commonality is, so I’ve begun to think about what I know for certain.
1. I know for certain that I want to look at the leader, in this case my leader will be a higher education professional who is ❤ out of a college student personnel/higher education program and working in student affairs.
2. I know for certain that I want to look at decision making processes of these leaders.
Annie asks why, through a series of thorough questions, and I discern that the process of these SA Pros likely affects how they advise their students in their decision making. How can you teach intentional decision making if you are not able to model it or make sense of it? Annie asks what types of decisions…I am stumped because Cheryl has been asking me this question for a year.
I resolve the following: I know I don’t want to look at high-stakes decisions because I think that is a different sort of process, but I want to look at meaningful decisions or rather significant decisions. She asks for an example, and I tell her about my own decision to drop a class last semester in favor of teaching a class. Brilliantly she deduces, “So you want to look at decisions with long term implications.” Yes! That it is exactly.
3. Innocently enough, Annie asks me in a sidebar what my hope was in this program in regards to my own decision making. I told her that my greatest wish was to be able to hear and appreciate others’ decision making processes but be able to remain true to what is right for me. Relating back to my SA Pros I said, “…because when you have what your boss thinks you should do, what your peers think you should do, what your students want you to do, its hard to remember what is right for you and what works for you.” I gasped. Here enters my Adult Development final exam in full blazing glory: Winnecott. True and False self. I wrote this down, “Authenticity…how do you make decisions anchored to true self (vulnerable, innovative) vs. false self (pleasing, anxiety reducing)…” Annie added, “…and how do you recognize [the true self] in your decisions?”
And this is my thread. This is what ties together everything I’ve considered to date. Spirituality and feeling “at peace” with decision making=decision making from the true self. Looking at multiple identities and their salience in decision making=which self (true or false) is more salient when considering a decision. It fits, and who knew that I would have to fall apart, quite literally, for this to fall together?
So now, it is with renewed energy that I prepare to dive back into the adult development literature and consider this and other theories from a new space. A space of presence, and a space of my own truth. When I was working solely to dissipate the anxiety over my future I relied on what worked for others and lost sight of what works for me, my slow methodical somatic and intuitive knowing. I had to depart to arrive. And I knew this photo was meant for you when I saw it. Hindsight is always 20/20. I cannot wait for this summer.