I am at a crossroads in my life, I could call it a quarter-life crisis, but I am trying to stay optimistic. As I approach my 1 year anniversary of working for the University of Virginia Athletics Department, I am not sure I want to make it to my 2nd year anniversary. I feel exhausted, undervalued, and uncertain of where this job is taking me. It has been especially frustrating for me to spend countless hours, energy, and emotional commitment to supporting a student’s pursuit for learning, to find that the student does not even care about his or her education. They just want to play a sport and be done with it. Regardless of whether the student has a positive attitude, respects you, or is even receptive to your help, you have no choice but to find a way to make sure that student is eligible to compete. Often, I have to allocate the majority of my time and effort to working with the rude, disinterested, and unmotivated while I neglect the driven, dedicated, and passionate student who wants to learn and use his/her education to contribute to society one day. The predicament that lays in intercollegiate athletics still remains is are you a student or an athlete? In reality, academics and athletics should not be mutually exclusive.
While, I don’t want to lump all student-athletes into this category causing my professional frustration because that is most definitely not the case as I have some incredibly wonderful students I am blessed to be supporting. I am questioning whether the lasting and valuable relationships I’ve developed with the students, faculty, coaching staff, and my colleagues alone cannot sustain my happiness in this career. I recognize at the beginning of any career, you have to put in your time and be ok with doing the things you may not like to do, but I believe there should be light at the end of the tunnel and I’m not seeing the light.
A good friend of mine who works in the admissions office for the university took me out for a glass of wine to help me find clarity in my life and assess my reservations about staying another year. He’s been at UVA as a student and professional for about 15 years now so he is very familiar with the bureaucracy and politics that exist at UVA. Given his long years of experience he shared an interesting perspective. He listened attentively to my many woes and complaints about the department, things I like and don’t like, the way I am treated by my colleagues, how I don’t fit into the Charlottesville clique, how I really want to be in the development side of athletics, I never wanted to be an academic advisor, I want to live in a big city, etc…I was quite the negative Nancy. His response was simple. He read to me SH Payer’s Live Each Day to the Fullest.
Live Each Day to the Fullest
Live each day to the fullest.
Get the most from each hour, each day,
and each age of your life.
Then you can look forward with confidence,
and back without regrets.
Be yourself… but be your best self.
Dare to be different and follow your own star.
Don’t be afraid to be happy
…enjoy what is beautiful.
Love with all your heart and soul.
Believe that those you love, love you.
When you are faced with decision,
make that decision as wisely as possible,
then forget it.
The moment of absolute certainty never arrives.
And above all, remember that God helps those
who help themselves. Act as if everything depended on you
And pray as if everything depended on God.
~ SH Payer
And then made me recite multiple times, “When you are faced with decision, make that decision as wisely as possible, then forget it”. He asked me how I felt 12 months ago when I was faced with the decision to apply for the academic coordinator position at UVA. At that time, did I make the decision as wisely as possible? I admittedly said yes. This was the right decision at that moment. I sat there reflecting upon my experience applying, interviewing, and remembering the sheer excitement I had for the job and the line, “The moment of absolute certainty never arrives” hit me like an epiphany. Yes, I’m not certain this is the job for me or that it will lead to an athletic director position one day (my ultimate goal), but I will never know unless I try it. Now, I am faced again with another decision. Should I stay or should I go. I have to make the decision as best I can now and realize that it is impossible to be absolutely certain that whichever decision I make was the right decision. My passion lies in the fund-raising side of athletics, so now I just got to find a door and walk on in.