Real Talk: Positivity is Exhausting

The Student Affairs field is full of positivity. We get negative situations, challenges, etc. from faculty, students and staff, but are constantly turning it into positive experiences and always are taking advantage of those “teachable moments”. There’s always a “light at the end of the tunnel” and it has become our job to find that light and work with our students et al. to get to that light, even though it might be a rough journey.

Its one of the most rewarding parts about this job, to see positive outcomes from negative situations. The learning on both, our end and the individuals we are helping, is second to none.

But always being the positive and motivational person can be exhausting. Sometimes one just needs a good bitching session, or to be honest about how the job can really suck and no matter how hard we work, sometimes the situations we work in or the students we work with, don’t reach that “light at the end of the tunnel”.

For me, I sometimes just need to recognize and be frustrated and sad for the low points or students and situations that I couldn’t help, before I can learn and move on. However, we really don’t get that opportunity, because we 1) don’t have any real outlets to do so, and 2) there are always a plethora of other students, staff and situations to handle. We bottle up the negative, sadness and frustration and power through. Thus the positivity continues, and to me, eventually becomes forced and no longer genuine. We seem to be afraid of saying how we honestly feel for fear of retribution from the SA Gods rather than handling and confronting our feelings and emotions. Perhaps its part of why SA has such a huge problem with retention.

I have my friends and family that I talk with, but sometimes it’d be great to have SA Peers to talk and vent with about it all. But it becomes a vicious circle because let’s be honest…we “Students Affairs” each other all the time. We never seem to leave this frame of mind that is Student Affairs and step down to just be human and exist as emotional individuals.

Perhaps this is just me. But I’m struggling with finding the balance of being the positive motivator and worker, with handling the frustration and sadness that I encounter in some of my work.

Now, knee-jerk reactions to some of my comments will make many want to say something positive, or that perhaps its just a perspective thing. People will want to put a positive spin on it for motivation and encouragement. And while, that is always appreciated, perhaps positive motivation is not always what is needed. Perhaps what is needed is honest and raw feelings and recognizing them as part of the job. That being said, if you ever need to vent or cry hit me up, I’m always willing to just listen and vent and cry with you as we  go down the path of student affairs, free of judgement and opinion.

Courtesy of
Courtesy of

Just a few thoughts as I continue my journey through Student Affairs and learn about my field, myself and how we can become even better people with professions rather than professional people.

Until next time,

Peace, Love and Pandas!

Published by Brian

I am currently the Assistant Director of Student Life for Registered Student Organizations and Late-Night Programming at Michigan State University. After earning my B.A. from the University of Michigan-Flint, I entered the Student Affairs profession. After a few years in the field, I returned to school and earned my M.A. in Educational Leadership-Higher Education Student Affairs from Eastern Michigan University. In my spare time I blog about my thoughts and musings on current issues in higher education, student affairs, digital worlds, identity development and general life inspirations and observations. I also volunteer a lot for my fraternity and multiple regional and national professional associations.

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