That's the one word that comes to mind as I punch the keys on this post. After seven years at NYU, I will be ending my chapter there this week.
It's been a long and adventurous chapter, and honestly, it's been an awesome seven years. Like, seriously, AWESOME. Despite the usual complaints we all have about our workplaces, which of course pops up from time to time, my seven years at NYU has provided me with joy, memories, tremendous people, and the ability to develop in sooooooo many ways, professionally.
It was easy to tell - I loved my job.
After all, this very job, was my dream job.
It was. It was everything I wanted from the ability to combine my love for sports and fitness, my passion for student-development, and my innate activism for social justice - all into one gig. From the moment I selected my major in undergrad, this was what I wanted to do on a college campus.
And now, I'm leaving it. Imagine that? But Associate Athletic Director sounds so awesome, and so incredibly...well, beyond what I've EVER imagined for this life of mine. Typing it out still seems rather surreal, but here I am. Ready to begin, anew.
SOME STATS FO' YO ASS
Ah yes, one of my favorite lines from the movie, Coach Carter. Samuel L. Jackson just makes the simplest of comments so cool, and so incredibly hilarious.
Nonetheless, the last seven years has been:
13,364 Games, Fitness Sessions, Programs, and Events.
42,626 Students have participated in my programs over the years.
38% is the number of female participation in my program - double the nation's average.
4 New programs started and founded that will forever have my vision and fingerprints on them.
and most importantly...
68 awesome student-employees and part-timers who I had the opportunity to lead, mentor, develop, and recommend to the world.
And of course, there are the countless - COUNTLESS! - late nights and late hours (some all-nighters) spent on program refining to get things just right.
DID IT MY WAY
Even as I leave NYU, I find myself with a sense of accomplishment beyond the numbers and program assessments. I find tremendous solace in the notion that I leave with a reputation of hard work, kindness, empathy, and being trustworthy.
In the last couple of days, as I've said my goodbyes around the University - from staff to administrators, to students - I've received such an outpouring of love and have been the recipient of a very common sentiment - "you never changed".
I've never been good with specific social interactions of shmoozing, or even, playing politics in the work place. I've would even go as far as stating I'm not one to gossip much. In an industry where those things can often take over, or negativity and tearing down others can be common - I found myself never wanting to be a part of it.
And yes, there were times it may have made me seem weird. I'm well aware of that. Again, I just can't find it in myself to be "different" around other people. And I just don't do flattery of "higher ups" very well. Just me.
Honestly, in a weird way, I proved - at least to myself - that one can work hard, care about people, and focus on positivity, all while never needing to play politics. And even after all of it, STILL be so damned good at what you do, that you DIDN'T NEED IT.
I earned it.
HOT FREE AGENT?
If I never leave my next employer, you know what? I can honestly say I've gone through the experience of having two employers make offers and counter offers for my service, courting me for my services.
No. Like, for real!
Upon receiving my offer sheet from my new employer and institution, I experienced what was one of the most stressful times I've ever endured regarding my employment by weighing counter-offers and sitting in on meetings regarding those counter offers.
Yes, it's tremendously flattering. But at the same time, it's heart-wrenching, stressful, and an absolute pain in the ass. I loss plenty of sleep that week - and that was in conjunction with caring for a new born.
But the process forced me to do something I've NEVER been good at - focusing on me. What do I want? No check that....what do I deserve?
I would like to thank Lil Wayne for "Best Rapper Alive". We all have anthems and ballads that are synonymous with moments and times in our lives - this track seriously kept me amped and had my chest puffed out walking the streets of NYC.
The track just kept me in a mode of believing in my work and talents throughout the process. It also helped me put the issue of "loyalty" and the emotion of guilt on the back burner. Damnit! I just presented at a National Conference! I'm good! Like effing good! Yeah, that song had me wayyyy up there. But we all need that from time-to-time, no?
Swagger right, check, game tightAgain, it was so incredibly flattering, and an experience I'm happy to have had at least once in my life. Also, I now have a new found respect and empathy for all professional athletes going through free agency. :)
And they gon' R-E-S-P-E-C-T me (Who?)
The best rapper alive, the best rapper alive
And then, there are my students. I'll be lying if I didn't say this was one of the toughest weeks of my life. I mean that - no hyperbole. I very much dislike attention (did I mention that?), and this week brought me tons of it. And even with that, came all of the emotions and thank yous from current students in the forms of gifts, conversations, cards, tears, hand-written notes, and long hugs.
The outpouring even came over social media via DMs from previous students and various individuals I've dealt with over the years.
I don't think I've yet completely wrapped my mind around the impact I've had over the last seven years on the students who made my office a big part of their college experience. And again, I say that as humbly and as bashful as I can - because I genuinely do not like talking about it. But it's there. And it's a growing feeling as this week continues.
Even as I think about all of the situations, advice, and moments I've dealt with over the years - the not so serious topics as dating, music, and sports, to the things I've never imagined being the focal point of - suicide, sexual assault, drugs, mental health, sexual orientation announcements and advice in doing so to family, career advice, and so much more.
I've heard stories, comments, and secrets students have never shared with anyone.
I've been in the moment when students received news of losing loved ones.
I've talked students from dropping out of college.
I've shared my experience - helping create perspectives for many students of color (something I wish I very much had in my undergraduate experience).
I've been told by parents during commencement week, "thank you so much. We're so happy you were looking out for..."
I was there, in what I believe was still the hardest time of my tenure - the 2016 election. To make sense of it all to students, on guiding discourse for those on both sides of it all. Of course, while trying to figure it all out myself.
And of course, all of the indirect effects and impact I'll really never know from my programming.
For so long, I've chalked it up as God's work. What would Jesus do, right? After all, I know this is my calling. And also my passion - wanting to help students. I just grind along, continuously handling each situation and offering advice to students during a time when the world doesn't make much sense - a far cry from having it all figured out a few years prior.
But this week, it just feels like the stored vault I placed all of those feelings in, has been unlocked this week.
And honestly, that's what I will miss the most. Those moments. Those students. Those conversations. REAL conversations. All of them. All of it.
That's what I'm most proud of. Even more so than the numbers and the reputation. More than the feeling of being wanted and courted.
Students believed in me. Without bounds. And that's something I'll never take for granted. Ever.
Because again...I earned it.
BEST BOSS EVER
Also, in this process, I've realized I have been overwhelmingly blessed by my last two employers with bosses who have been people that have mentored me, developed me, and have allowed me the space and opportunity to reach my full potential. I know that isn't something everyone can say about those they report too.
That is not lost on me. I'm truly, very grateful.
And it seems I'll have that once again going forward.
In the words of Bruno Mars..."Got to blame it on Jesus, Hashtag blessed!"
NEXT CHAPTER AWAITS
As the clock counts down my time at NYU, and I'm continuously in my head making sense of it all, my next chapter also begins rapidly.
I'm not sure what my time as Associate Athletic Director will bring at my next institution. Who knows how I'll fit in on campus, or if I'll ever have the same impact that I did at NYU? But, I'm tremendously excited to get going on a new challenge. With new responsibilities. And some awesome opportunities - like input (and some autonomy) in renovating an athletic facility with potential?!!! Come on!
Nonetheless, 2018 - obviously - has been a year of such great change for me.
I've learned a tremendous amount about myself.
The most important being - I'm pretty awesome.
Again, that's not me becoming comfortable with self-praise.
It's just that...well, I earned it.