The Women in Housing series is a month-long project featuring the voices, stories, and experiences of women who currently or formerly work in housing and residence life. Today's post was written by Heather Macon.
So, I blog. I occasionally come home after a long day’s work and have wine, and catch up on Real Housewives of Atlanta or Being Mary Jane when I can! Yup, that’s a piece of my self-care routine, guilty pleasures. I was in a black owned coffee shop in Uptown New Orleans, when I was greeted with a smile and conversation. If you knew me and my WOO personality, you would know that I love interactions, meeting strangers, and leaving a bit of inspiration where I can.
This conversation eventually led to the exciting part where the question “What do you do,” can become fulfilling to talk about or give you a headache based on the many questions or head tilts. I told the barista how I was from St. Louis. I most recently packed up my life the summer of 2016 and moved to New Orleans to work in College Housing and Residential Life. In quite shock about how my life suddenly transitioned, and not a clue of what Resident Director do, she asked me "Well, that's interesting. What did you think you'd be when you grew up?" Along with, “Are you a dorm mom?” Oh and “So that means you are in grad school.”
Funny thing is, I never quite knew what I wanted to be when I grew up, but I knew what kind of person I wanted to be! Think about the difference.
As I sit here, enjoying a glass or two... or bottle of Pinot Grigio, I ponder on that exact question, what did you think you'd be when you grew up?" Well, it's not a coincidence that "If This World Were Mine," is playing as I ponder on that question. See, it's simply not, because, I've always had this creativity about myself, this old-soul, an appetite for more, more beyond my vision. I pride myself on being a strong communicator, a God-fearing woman with a sense of direction, one who loves pearls & heels, a person who loves deeply & tries to see the absolute best in everyone. Yup, heels & pearls, doing room checks, ha!
At one point in time I had high hopes of being a teacher, a lawyer, and even following in my mother's footsteps as a nurse. But when I entered college, undergrad, fall of 2009 I thought I wanted to be a psychiatrist. I truly thought I wanted to be able to sit and listen to other people’s challenges and joys, and give feedback. After a failed attempt to pass psychology my first semester as a college first year student, I began to reflect on the idea: Heather, is this a passion or does it seem okay for the moment? I soon changed my major to broadcast journalism, working as a part-time radio DJ for a few years with high hopes of becoming the next Oprah. No lie, Oprah is a woman that I admire for her strength, perseverance and other many things. Who doesn’t love Oprah? You’d be surprised.
I spent my undergrad career thinking that I wanted to go into television & news due to my love for communication and inspiration. My senior submission was a self-produced video that I did with a focus on depression. At that moment, I felt something on my heart that I struggled with and I wanted to share with my professor and classmates. My happiness was brought to the surface being able to work on something that hit close to home, and something that I could relate to and it can come natural. Not only did I receive an A, I could be at peace to know that I submitted something that allowed me to use personal experience and my creative gift.
Life after undergrad was rough. I struggled to find a job, struggled to stay positive, but I also struggled to listen to that voice as I prayed every night. I prayed for peace, for my footsteps to be led and for my purpose to be revealed. I realized that it wasn't a journalist that I wanted to be, I didn't want to just go into that field and do the work; I wanted to touch the lives of others through my gift. I say that to say, that wasn't my calling, I wasn't working for it hard like the other aspiring journalists in my life. I truly have some journalists in my life that continue to inspire me & others around me, but that wasn't Heather's journey.
When I decided to enroll in graduate school to study Adult and Higher Education, some felt as though I was crazy. When some people think of college or graduate school, all they think about is more money, a piece of paper and wasted time. I was thinking of an opportunity to gain another ounce of education, another way to learn, another networking tool, but most importantly, being able to understand transparency, access to education, and what type of leadership I'm able to push out to students.
While enrolled in my Higher Education program at one institution, I could gain experience at a separate institution in Residential Life. Prior to that position, I was in academic advising as a summer intern, but both of those positions allowed me to see the beauty in education. It allowed me to understand my current situation, and focus on the students of today and those who would follow after them.
I've always known that I wanted to be the kind of person that could use my light to help guide others, the kind of person with a heart that has enough strings to play a song for someone else, and the kind of person that is willing to extend a helping hand by being a sound board, transparent staff member or simply just an understanding human being.
Someone once told me, figure out what kind of person you want to be, and let everything else fall into place around that. I am living it up in New Orleans, working for a great institution, while being able to enjoy what I love most: a full-time job in higher education and my writing. I think my gift is being used quite frequently.
One of the happiest moments thus far, adjusting to a new role was being able to express to my students my love for motivation, inspiration, and writing; sharing my blog and letting them know that we all come from a place of change, confusion, understanding, and self-reflection.
I never quite knew what I wanted to be when I grew up, but I knew what kind of person I wanted to be!
A person of integrity, someone who models inclusive excellence, a woman willing to share her past experiences; allowing others to understand her journey. A person who demonstrates the importance of having an education despite his/her past, a transparent individual who has enough faith, guidance and purpose to model the way. Overall, a non-judgmental person who understands that what you aspire to be while you're younger may not be the same as the kind of person you want to be as you get older.
Heather J. Macon is a Resident Director at Tulane University in New Orleans, LA. She obtained her Masters’ in Adult & Higher Education from University of Missouri – St. Louis. In her spare time, Heather enjoys blogging, winery tours, cooking and TED Talks.
The Women in Housing series is sponsored by Adirondack Solutions.