Before I began writing this learning log, I read through my reflections from the previous months. I had two takeaways from that exercise alone: 1) reflection is incredibly important, and 2) I need to do more of it. It was great to spend some time in thought regarding what I had written about in the last twelve months and I will highlight some of the major themes I picked up on here.
Something I have been considering a lot lately is the tension between planning for what’s next and focusing on the now. Part of why I was awarded this Fellowship was related to my goals for the future and a belief in my ability to accomplish them, so I am obviously thinking about them. Yet at the same time, what I have right now is such an incredible opportunity that I want to make sure I am maximizing this moment. Obviously, part of being in the moment is being there in a way that prepares you for what’s next, so I think that is how I am trying to approach this tension. I don’t have a big idea to share about all of this other than to say it’s something I have been wrestling with and something that I wasn’t really thinking about a year ago.
As I have considered trying to find the balance between the now and the future, I keep coming back to the importance of building strong foundations. Perhaps this is what stands out to me most about my leadership development so far. I applied for this Fellowship because I wanted to earn my PhD in Social Studies Education. I wanted to do this because I thought it was an important step for me as I try to influence the change I want to see. I still believe this to be true, but I’m also realizing the importance of taking care of myself. The last year has been busy. The last decade has been busy, but the last year has been a new busy. In this busyness, I have become more aware of some of what I have more or less taken for granted in adulthood. I have been fortunate with my health and I have an incredible family that loves and supports me. So far in my life, just going through the motions has worked for me. As I continue to grow, I recognize that I need to be more purposeful in how I approach my development. Fortunately, I am not the first Fellow to discover how important this is and the Bush Foundation stressed this as we transitioned our plans from application to action. I am grateful for this and I am currently seeing the importance of self-care as I prepare myself to sustain my leadership for years to come.
Finally, I want to highlight how important is has been to use this opportunity to see myself in new ways. Last month, I was able to travel to Sydney to attend the World Business Forum. This experience pushed me to see myself not just as an educational leader, but as a leader. That distinction might not seem important, but for someone who has focused deeply on my growth as an educator, it is. Additionally, the opportunity to travel halfway around the world to go to a conference that I would have never otherwise attended was also a very powerful reminder of the magnitude of this Fellowship. I strongly felt the weight and energy from the idea that people believe in my accomplishments and potential. In many ways I have had an amazing year. It’s also been a very challenging one and, I will be honest: I have doubted myself more than I should have this year. I have heard several people talk about imposter syndrome and I think it’s fair to say that I’ve been feeling some of that. This experience was an uplifting one that came at the perfect time for me as I transition into the second year of my Fellowship.