I have never been one for tooting my own horn. The times when I have tried just felt awkward. I felt like I was bragging. Who wants to be spend time around that? A way to somewhat circumvent my discomfort was to use the word “just.” It has multiple meanings, but Merriam Webster best describes the way in which I use it as “a very small margin; only; simply.” Sounds about right. I take accomplishments and whittle them down to keep others from feeling less than. I have been doing it since grade school. The area where I tend to do this the most as an adult is at work.
“I just made up the document to help.”
“I just met with students to hear them out.”
“I just saw it (being anything) needed to get done and decided to do it.”
“I just teach the one credit courses.”
“I just advice.”
Image: Google Images
Ultimately, in not trying to create an environment where I appear to think I am better than others are, I minimize the contributions I have made to my field, my co-workers and most importantly my students. It does not make sense for anyone to do take that route. One thing I do well is self-reflect. It gives me an opportunity to think about my feelings, my thoughts and the impact of my choices. It is because of self-reflecting that I was able to catch this habit and turn things around.
I spend a lot time with students and love the relationships we have built. Their personalities come out in class, but their character shines through in our one-on-one meetings. It is at those times that learning begins for both of us. In those moments when they open up about their vulnerabilities, insecurities and fears a lightbulb goes off and reminds me that I am more than “just” their advisor. In those moments when they are questioning their abilities, if they were supposed to come to college, if they are in the right major, if they will disappoint their families, I become their coach, their mentor, their counselor, their friend, their teacher and in some cases their mom away from home. I become the person that does not solely focus on their grades and class performance, but if they are sleeping, if they are eating, if they are genuinely okay.
We all have roles that we play in our careers and if we took the time to stop minimizing those roles it would become clearer, to us, the level of knowledge, care and understanding we bring to our clients, partners, colleagues, patients, students, staff, administration or organization as a whole. I am not just an advisor, and I know those of you reading this are not just what your title claims. Own who you are, and take pride that you are one of the greatest to step into your role.
About the author: Latanya Muhammad is an advisor, group facilitator and freelance writer. To read more of her work, or to connect, visit www.shetanagain.com and @shetanagainwrites on Facebook.