Posted January 13, 2015 by Ben Williams 

Dealing With (and Celebrating) Change

ChangeAhead Change is...

Change is something that can be celebrated, feared, explored, and stressed about all within a minute. I try to live my life in a way that accepts change as inevitable and celebrates it whenever possible. I would say ‘try’ is the operative word. Over the past couple of weeks, I have spent time reflecting on my experience applying for jobs and have come to terms with what I used to despise: change.

I moved to Oxford, Ohio, in July 2013, and in May 2015 I will be living in… (TBD)… but that is the topic for another post. I intend to go after an advanced degree at some point but will never be a full-time student again, which is a happy change for me. I will be leaving Oxford, Ohio, and going to a new place, which is an anxiety-inducing change. In addition, you cannot forget about the change that occurs in us as professionals by going through the day-to-day experiences of working with students. If you had asked me two years ago how I felt about the uncertain, the answer would have been that it terrifies me, but today, I try to celebrate the unknown and change as an agent for growth.

The unique thing about working in a college union is that we see change on a daily basis. Change happens when student organizations transform our ballrooms, when a die-in occurs to protest systematic racism, and when our student staff prepares to say goodbye to the facility they have worked in. In the Armstrong Student Center at Miami of Ohio, we just welcomed a new assistant director who will work with our Event Production staff to help bring events to life, but for me, it is a bittersweet change. For the past year, I have supervised that student staff, and shortly after writing this, I will have met with the person who will be taking that role over.

The logical side of me knows that providing a full-time supervisor with a greater level of technology experience who has a schedule later in the day will help grow the area. The emotional side of me struggles to transition away from a staff I have worked with and wants to hold on just a little bit longer. Readers cannot forget that earlier in this post, I said I try to embrace change, but it is a process like any other—so I have developed these three things to remind myself of this necessity, which may be of some help to those who also struggle with change.

  1. Change is emotional: Chances are that whether you are deciding to leave a position, move to a new place, or end a relationship, it will be hard and emotional. Let the emotions happen and talk to friends, family, etc., for the support you need.
  2. Change is a process: Whether it is a wrap up of meetings, the last time with your staff who you’ve been with for a year, leaving the office for the last time, or opening the door to a new home, change doesn’t happen on our timetables every time. Things come up, situations are altered, and you have to trust the process.
  3. Change is a good thing: In my current situation, I graduate, so leaving is required, but in many situations you are making a choice to switch jobs, relationships, or some other aspect of your life. That is something to celebrate, because it means you are doing what you need to do. The phrase “You do you, boo” comes to mind and seems incredibly appropriate.

For me, these three things help make change become a more manageable idea to celebrate and deal with. So what do you do to deal with or embrace change? In addition, what are ways you support students, staff, and friends who cope with the challenges of change?

Ben Williams

Ben Williams is the Associate Program Director at Georgia Institute of Technology.

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