I suppose perspective is always important. When you compare living in the midst of chaos or looking at it through the rear view mirror, sometimes the situation looks different. I am a different advisor today than I was 10 years ago. Experience has taught me to be better at some things and created less patience for me in others. When I started working full time at USD, I had just turned 23 years old the week before. I had been married for 6 months to my college sweetheart and had a Master's degree and 1 year of Graduate Assistant experience to shape my perspective. Experiences since that day in January of 1996 (I am 38 for those trying to do the math) have made me different and, I like to think, better. In the nearly 16 years since, a lot has happened...
- Closure of a two fraternity chapters
- Cell phones that fit in your pocket
- Hospital visits to check on the welfare of students with alcohol poisoning
- Birth of my first daughter and adoption of my second daughter
- Addition of 7 chapters to USD's Greek community
- Contracting a disease, nearly dying and being in a wheelchair for 3 months
- Experiencing weddings, commitments and the birth of children for many students I have loved
- Burying my father and brother within 6 weeks of each other
- Receiving international recognition/awards for our Greek Community's work
- Sitting and holding the hand of a student who were felt the world would be better without them in it
- Receiving a phone call, 3 years after a student left my office hating me, telling me that he was sorry and wished he'd done it differently
As I look at this list, there are some things that I wish I'd handled differently. Things that, with hindsight, I could/should have done better. These experiences have shaped the lens by which I see my life, my vocation, the world. The older I get, though, the more I realize that while how I feel in the moment is valid, there is often a 5 year out perspective to keep.
So, the question for each of us to ask ourselves, when we find we are in a moment feeling strongly about something, is "Is the way I am responding to this now the same as it would be 5 years out?"