The Freshman Project

FP

 

A couple of years ago I did a five post series called, College, Ready or Not?, that focused on finances, making friends, going Greek, stress management, and the importance of listening to your instincts in the collegiate environment. This was great foreshadowing for the opportunity I had to contribute to The Freshman Project: A Collection of Practical and Clever Advice About The College Experience. This book is for college students diving into their first-year of college AND for those people in their life who serve as their advocates, allies, mentors, friends, teachers, guidance counselors, mentors, and champions.

After serving as a Student Affairs staff member on the campuses of Duke University and Vanderbilt University for the past 9 years, I know that parents/guardians always want to know, “How do I prepare my student for college?” This book can help you answer that question with pages of expert knowledge that help you have the conversations that matter most with your student.

Gift this book to a student and they can spend some time preparing for their next incredible chapter.

Topics include:

  • Survive Failure
  • Build Healthy Love Relationships
  • Pick a Major
  • Be a Beginner
  • Navigate Depression and Anxiety
  • Discover Leadership Opportunities
  • Honor the Differences
  • Sleep Smart
  • Consider Fraternity/Sorority Life

All of these topics are critical for an incoming college student to discuss with a caring individual in their life AND there are still many more topics in the book. Providing them with this information will provide a strong foundation that will help support them as they navigate their first-year of college.

I’m honored to have a chapter in the book “Discover Leadership Opportunities”. Erin Fischer of The Leadership and Training Studio put together an all-star roster of expert contributors who give you top notch nuggets of wisdom.

If you’re a student or a supporter of a student and you want  deeper insight into the collegiate experience while adding some tools to your toolbox to help you both be successful, then this book is for you.

Want a copy? I’d love to send you some purchase information.

Want to develop a program around the first-year college experience?

Email me at krystalnclark@gmail.com so that I can send you purchase information and we can begin planning something positive for you community.

 

Want to read my series, College, Ready or Not?

Part 1

Come Back to Calm

Inconvenient Friends

Go With Your Gut

Money, Too Much and Never Enough

The Greek Thing

 

Thanks for reading.

Krystal

 

Southern Charm

Charleston, SC was my 33rd birthday gift to myself. A new year, a new city. What a beautiful city it is. The houses, the beaches, the trees, the colors, the food–BEAUTIFUL! I took a walking tour and a carriage tour, ate in some of the most highly regarded restaurants, strolled up and down King Street, looked out over the place the East Bay, laid out on the beach, and well, cried my eyes out on a plantation tour.

See, Charleston is rather aesthetically beautiful but how it became the city that you see today is quite ugly. Now, we Southerners don’t talk about slavery at the dinner table but slave labor was the means by which Charleston secured its wealth. In the photos below you can see glimpses of slave cabins and the Old Slave Mart–the place where slaves were sold. So, in many ways I adored this city but in other ways it frightened me. As my friend Adrianne said, ” I even felt like the trees were trying to talk to me.” –Their moss hangs like secrets in the wind. If only they could talk, I wonder of all the horrors they’d have to share. Depending on who you spoke with would determine whether you were given a real history of the city or a glossed over version that belittles slavery to only a minuscule stain in human history. Others would tell you the nitty gritty and would enlighten you that reverberations of slavery still exist in the city today. My transition from charm to disgust occupied my entire trip. Now, please understand, that no one was mean to me on this adventure. In fact, everyone really lived up to Southern Hospitality and gave me nothing but Southern Charm. I laughed a great deal during this adventure and chatted up fantastic local characters. However, in the back of my mind as I walked down cobbled streets and passed by ancient million dollar exquisite homes, that in the foundation of this city was the blood, sweat, tears, and stolen freedom of my ancestors. Yes, we’ve come a long way though being in the home of the massacre that occurred at Mother Emanuel AME Church reminds me and hopefully you that we’ve still got a long way to go.

I am a woman of Virginia–went to College  in Colonial Williamsburg, my family is originally from North Carolina, and I lived in North Carolina for four years of my life. I now live in Tennessee and have done so since 2011. I’m a Tri Delta who is about to be President of the Junior League. I’m no stranger to the South but there was something about this city that smacked me in my face upon my arrival. Something deeper–its beauty makes it harder for me to digest its past. I love the South and abhor the South. I guess my Bitter Southerner is showing.

Yes, visit Charleston, but always seek a deeper understanding of where you have chosen to vacation. Love it, but embrace the realities of the space. Tour it, but tour it with empathy.

I Was Here.

“…it’s what remains when you’re gone.”

Legacy.

I recently began watching Game of Thrones and this definition was provided by one of the many Lords to my girl, Arya (LOVE HER).

I began thinking about legacy after having the privilege of attending a retirement party for my boss’ boss. He’s worked on the same campus for 40 years. 40 years! That’s not really a thing anymore.

At the party, as pictures of his time on campus flashed across the screen, people from across those 40 years showed up to shake his hand, give him a hug, deliver deeply thoughtful gifts, share with him a fun memory and a sincere thanks for the impact he had on their life. It was beautiful, emotional, and really, just perfect. Hell, even the deviled eggs had names!

His legacy was on full display in that room. He’s no longer coming to work on a daily basis but he doesn’t have to, because he has left an indelible imprint on the campus and those who have ever been in his presence.

I became a bit overwhelmed and pensive as I stewed over what people might have to say about me at the end of my career. At my retirement party, what, if anything, will be said about me and my work? Will I have made an impact? Been a gamechanger? Left people with words that their head and heart will not allow them to forget? Inspire people enough that they would cross state lines to give me a hug?

A day later I attended the Creative Souls Launch Party and in the front of the room stood a desk covered with paper that had the question, “What do you want your legacy to be?” scrawled in the center. I took up residency at that desk because, well, my feet hurt and I was hot. I soon found that not only was the chair comfortable BUT it was a great way to meet people and I was able to ponder this question throughout the evening. Here’s what I wrote:

legacy 3

Not sure if this is complete but I certainly would not be alarmed if this is what was said about me at a retirement party. As I sat at the desk the creative lot of women that approached the question all responded with a similar response, “Wow, that’s a hard question.” “I don’t know.” I’m going to have to think about this one.” “Hmph, that’s a heavy question.”

Yes, it is a hard question—as it should be.

Your legacy is an outcome. In education, we have learning outcomes and legacy could be called your “living outcome” or “working outcome”. When I’m planning a program, I start from developing a clear picture of what I want students to learn from this experience. I then build the program around those outcomes. This will guide the activities I choose, the speakers I invite to share, and the resources I provide during the program. The key takeaways have been planted into the curriculum. Legacy is something that you have to live into—once you’ve decided what you want your legacy to be (and it shall certainly change as you do) then you must act accordingly. Your actions and your words must be in alignment with the legacy you desire to leave behind for others.

Reflecting about your legacy adds a strong level of intentionality to your life. Live and work as you want to be remembered.

At the same event located at Storyville USA, I ran into this wall. “The key to immortality is to first live a life worth remembering.” –adding this to the to-do list.

legacy 1

Regardless of whether we intend to or not, we all leave a legacy behind. The opportunity and the responsibility we have in the present moment is to design the legacy we want instead of acquiring the default setting.

What do you want your legacy to be? What do you hope people say about you upon retirement or your departure from this life? Are you living into your legacy? If not, what actions do you need to take in order to do so?

Krystal

 

 

 

 

 

Keep Swimming.

The #CreativeSoulsChallenge, Day 5 is to blog about 3 ways that I stay motivated and I love chatting about motivation so this one’s a treat. I’ve been able to do two presentations on motivation this year at the College Panhellenic Conference and Vanderbilt’s The Leadership Studio.

I’m a fan of Daniel H. Pink’s book, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. As luck would have it, he provides 3 ways to motivate yourself and others that are a departure from our classic extrinsic motivators of money, food, and stuff. When you want people to do higher level work and be creative, you’re going to have cater to their intrinsic motivators–things that come from a personal and internal space.

A.M.P

Autonomy–Am I able to self direct my time, task, technique, and team?

Mastery– Am I getting better at something?

Purpose– Am I doing something meaningful and relevant for my life or the lives of others?

When I read this book, I could clearly reflect on moments when I’ve had a lapse in motivation, and how it was connected to one of these factors.

Drive new

A= Pink states that one of the “t’s” might be more important for you than the others. Perhaps you don’t care if someone tells you how to do something (technique) but you want to be able to choose when you do it (time). For me, time and team, are important to maintaining a high level of motivation.

Time= I don’t like anyone to be in charge of my time. Only my boss (sparingly) and my boss’ boss (sparingly) are able to put meetings on my calendar. If I feel like I don’t have control over my time, I’m not happy and I will not be motivated to get the work done.

Team= I  really like to choose my team. Inherited teams are hard for me.

Do you have autonomy over the areas that matter to you? How are you providing autonomy in these areas to those you supervise? Or are you micromanaging the motivation right out of the room?

M= I’m an achiever. I have to know that I’m getting better at the work I’m doing in my full-time job as well as my side hustles and community work. Improvement is highly motivating for me when I speak or host educational programs. Have I gotten better? Have we improved as a team? On top of that, for me to be truly motivated, I have to want to get better at the skills utilized for a project.

In general, people want to develop and grow as a person and a professional. How is this work helping them to move toward mastery? How are you helping people track their growth? Are you celebrating their improvement? Recognition is good.

P= The WHY is critically important for my motivation. What is the purpose of the project? Why does this task matter? How is it contributing to the bigger picture? “Because I said so” doesn’t work with me at the age of 33. I have to know if I’m making a difference. Knowing the Purpose really helps motivate me when I’m engaged in tasks that I don’t enjoy. I hate the financial pieces of my current job BUT I have to do those things so that we can continue offering great programs. Now, if I don’t find a WHY or if the WHY I find is ridiculous then I’ve totally discovered the root of my motivational hardship. If it doesn’t matter then stop doing it. No one has time or desire to do meaningless work.

People have to know that what they are doing matters. Why are we raising this money? Why are we painting this wall? Why are we stuffing these envelopes? Take them back to the WHY when motivation declines.

 

Those are my three ways that I stay motivated. I think through these elements before I begin a project and when I can sense myself hitting a wall, I tap back into this knowledge and do a quick assessment of what I’m missing. Perhaps I need to take more control over a certain area, remember how what I’m doing is helping me become better at a desired skillset, and remind myself that what I’m doing matters.

Do an A.M.P. assessment the next time you experience motivation issues.

Want to watch an animated version of the book? Go.

Daniel H. Pink’s TED Talk? Go.

Thanks for reading!

Krystal

 

All By Myself

Traveling alone has become a source of pleasure in my life. I look forward to escaping the day to day. I research and plan a true tourist experience. I like being a solo tourist and making my way around a city without a squad. Whether I’m ubering, walking, or metroing my way through Washington D.C. taking in the wonders of Seattle, melting at the beauty of the homes in Charleston, or taking a break from the crowd in Montreal there’s something really refreshing and fulfilling about going on a solo mission. Planning MY itinerary and whipping out my iPhone (I mean, how did people live without them?) to find my way to the next adventure is good for me. It’s taught me more about how resourceful and strong I am.  It’s a good time for reflection and creative projects. It’s also helped me realize that I can connect with just about anyone. I’m great at chatting up strangers and I actually enjoy meeting new people in each city. I don’t have to include anyone in my plans. I go where I want to, when I want to, and how I want to. I don’t have to have the dreaded. “What do you want to eat?” conversation and I don’t have to get pissed at someone for waking up late and ruining the whole day. No one has any expectations of me.  I’m a woman who didn’t ride a plane until she was 21 and just left the US for the first time last month. The fact that I can get to the airport and board the correct vessel, is quite a feat.

Mimosa at Poogan's

During my time in Charleston as sweet southern people asked me repeatedly, “Are you here alone?” “Did you travel by yourself?” “Do you do this often?” “Are you eating dinner here all by yourself?” to which I replied, “Yes!” only to hear their responses of, “Wow, that’s something. You’re brave.” “Good for you.” “I want to do that when I grow up.” “That sounds like a great idea.” I began to think more about the taboo nature of this to most people. Most people would never travel alone. It would never cross their mind NOT to call up their besties for a voyage to a new place. Most people would never saddle up to a bar and eat a delicious meal with no one to talk to but the bartender until the others sitting on nearby stools open up after a couple of cocktails.

I don’t know WHY I can do this. I do know that my mother has similar albeit local tendencies.

And now for the raw & real part, I also came to the realization that for me, this “going solo” mentality is really all about preparation for the rest of my life. I’m often putting myself in positions to be alone because I think that’s going to be my state of being until the day I am no longer walking this earth. In my mind, I will be alone. Not lonely, but alone, and really by alone, I mean, single. When one turns 33 in the South and is the most single person on the planet and doesn’t have children, one is inclined to think about this in a deep reflective manner. I’m NEVER in a relationship (well, I haven’t been since college) and the thought of kids give me a heart attack.  I want to get used to just being “me” without anyone else to help me or accompany me on life’s adventures. I want to get so good at being just “me” that I numb the pain of the absence of a romantic partner. I want it to become normal so that I don’t put in the emotional work wondering, “Where is he?” or waste my prayers on some person that may not even exist. So, I detach and I run off to places all by myself. Sometimes, this can be as simple as a movie, museum, fitness class, or a concert, but other times it’s a new city in a different state. It’s the purchase of 1 ticket and the reservation for a table of 1.

I want to be a person who is full of hope and faith in God’s plan for me. He may have called me to be single or He may have called me to be married with three children. His answer might be “Not Yet” and not “No”. This is always my loudest prayer. I work to hold on to my belief that all He’s doing is for my good. But sometimes, y ’all, I just want to accept what is oddly the easiest and hardest answer–I wasn’t meant to be a married woman and I wasn’t chosen to be a mother. By just grappling with that notion, I find it easy to throw myself into individual pursuits. If this is the way it’s going to be then I must embrace it and I must celebrate it. I must own the position of falling in love with myself because I’m not sure that anyone else will ever want the job.

Me at the Beach

Yes, I understand how negative and messed up this might sound but this solo act business has become a coping mechanism to deal with my sometimes tear inducing fear of never again experiencing romantic love. Instead of doing something about my single state ( I don’t know what to do.) I just run from it. That kid thing I’m still REALLY unsure about at this time but having a person, my person, would be welcomed.

So, yeah, traveling alone is fun, but it’s much deeper than that for me.

Why Are We Still Talking About This?

There are a few things that I’m really over reading about on social media. If I’m reading about it then that means people are ACTUALLY having these irrelevant and unnecessary conversations. I just feel like we should, as a society, be BEYOND these things. Perhaps, I expect too much of humans.

Disclaimer: I must admit that I have great privilege in that most of the time I ask for forgiveness (or not) instead of permission. I’m not expected to wear a uniform to work. I also work in education which really tries hard to NOT be a corporate environment BUT I mean, who are we kidding? A College/University is a business. My clients happen to be 18-22 year olds. Often really great 18-22 years olds who wish me Happy Birthday, make me laugh, and leave me donuts and honeybuns.

The topic that made me itch today was, “Are workout clothes appropriate for work?” REALLY?! The world of athleisure is a thing and people like Hannah Bronfman (major crush) are helping women understand how to step up their athletic wear to make it fashionable and appropriate enough for work. I laughed a great deal when a colleague shared with me a TODAY show segment about athleisure and how they advised women to whip on a strappy heel with their sweatpants. WHAT?!

I think at this point the term athleisure just makes me giggle BUT I take the meaning behind it seriously as a professional woman who floats through the world juggling a nice number of roles and wearing a few different and stylish hats. I’m also a person who does really great work in leggings, t-shirt, and sneakers because I’m not worried about my Spanx rolling, a run in my tights, and my left pinkie toe killing  me in heels as I hustle around a brick campus.

I work and live in one of the most obese states in the US. I’ve always been overweight. I come from a large people and I REALLY enjoy biscuits. Working out makes me feel happier, relieves me of stress, and infuses me with a great deal of energy. I’ve also been known to lose a few pounds. When I work out, it’s an act of prioritizing me over my work, which makes me not resent the amount of time that I devote to my professional life. By taking care of myself, I can provide a better version of Krystal to all of the other stakeholders in my life. I’m better for my bosses, my students, my staff, my friends, my colleagues, and my family. If I’m healthy, that leads to less time out for sick days or doctor’s appointments. I also work in an environment in which, rather I’d always like to or not, I serve as a model for my clients. Modeling the Way is a critical piece of working in Student Affairs and if I can make time to engage in fitness, then perhaps I can serve as encouragement for a overly involved student to do the same. We urge our students to practice self-care and make wellness a part of their life. For many of them this means incorporating physical activity into their day. There’s even a hashtag called #SAFit to encourage folks in my field to include fitness into their packed and often student directed schedules.

All of this sounds pretty great, right? A happy, healthy, motivated, confident, and engaged Krystal is the best Krystal to have on your team. Not the grumpy sloth I become after skipping days of Barre3 or whatever ClassPass adventure on my schedule.

Then why do we keep admonishing people for sporting workout gear to the office? This is actually improving my work and if I’m getting the job done then should we really be hung up on what I wear to the office? What we’ve defined as professional dress, for many reasons, needs to be updated. Many of the women that have adopted athleisure as their work style, talk about it as a way of being comfortable while they work. These clothes help them perform at their self-defined personal best.

Barre3

Here’s the thing, we preach balance and life prioritization, but don’t want to always deal with the reality of what this looks like in practice.

There are times when I could make it to a fitness class in time if I didn’t have to worry about changing clothes or I could make it back to the office in a more timely manner if I didn’t have to take the time to do my entire morning routine for a 2nd time post workout. This is balance/prioritization in practice. If this isn’t acceptable, then I might just forego a workout because I don’t have time to change in a phone booth like Superman.

Yes, I know there are all of these office friendly workouts that people integrate into their day and that’s fantastic.  I’ve done some Barre3 10 minute workouts in the middle of my office but sometimes, you need a good lifting session or some time on the TRX. Unless you have the best office  EVER (if you even have an office) , these things might be super difficult to make happen between your desk and your decorative fichus.

Instead of looking at someone in a dri-fit top and a pair of workout pants as messy, lazy, unprofessional, and disrespectful, what if we looked at this person as just trying to get it all done in the best way they can?  What if we looked at this person as someone who has their priorities in order? What if we looked at this person as working hard to be their best in order to do their best work for and with others? We put athletes up on pedestals and invest billions of dollars in high performance  clothes that we hope will make us look, play, throw, shoot, swing, run, jump, flip, catch, kick, row, box, ski, and swim like they do BUT don’t bring that mess to work! Work, the place where you’re expected to perform like an Olympian for at least 40 hours of your week.

Now, I must admit that when I do wear workout clothes to the office I tend to do the following:

  1. Wear an oversized top to cover my bum.
  2. Ensure that what I wear is so fresh and so clean.
  3. Choose items that are black. I don’t rock my most colorful leggings on these days.
  4. Make sure that I’m not too exposed.
  5. If I happen to workout and then go to work, I take grooming items with me to freshen up at my desk or in my car. Deodorant or Dove’s Dry Spray , BeautyCounter’s Rose Water Spray, wipes, and fragrance. The goal is not to show up as a sweaty and smelly mess.
  6. Make sure that I have a light load of meetings post workout.

I know that these 6 items are my own way of contributing to the problem but to be honest, they also just help with my comfort level. I know that some of my friends feel they could never just pop back into the office post workout because of the amount they sweat in the process. I get that and this kit has helped me not be as concerned about this issue. I also would never wear leggings or workout pants without covering the junk in my trunk. I just can’t! No shade to those who do. You have much more confidence in your behind than I do.

I just think we’ve got to effectively design the outcomes of our office culture and be open to the steps that need to be made in order to achieve those outcomes. The tech world has certainly figured this out as my friends who work at Google and Microsoft rock sneakers, t-shirts, and jeans,  but what about everyone else? Do we really need to discount a person’s entire skillset because they wore a pair of sneakers, workout leggings, and a t-shirt to the office?

Stop with all the policing and get back to work. Let people be great.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What?! An Extra 24? Hey Februrary.

Feb 1

 

This post is the definition of late. We are 9 days into Black History Month and this post should have been delivered 4 days ago. I just realized that there could be layers to this statement but there’s enough commentary (too much) circulating about blackness after a certain superstar decided to stray from her nonthreatening lyrical roots and get more in touch with her actual roots. As I commented to a friend this morning, “don’t let anyone interrupt your slaying time.” Therefore, I SLAY! Today’s post is about the slayage that has already and will continue to take place in the month of February.

It’s a leap year, y’all! We get that extra 24 hours. I’ve scheduled a nap. How about you?

Oh, and I don’t do Valentine’s Day. I’m not even going to act like I have some higher intellectual view towards the holiday. I’m not in love and I haven’t had an actual Valentine’s Day since I was in college therefore, I’m jealous and it makes me sad. So there! Get out of my face with all of your pink and red shit. Yes, I know, I’m going to spend the day engaged in loving myself and the Lord. Yeah, I got it. 

February Happenings

  1. Launch of The Leadership Studio/ Communication Studio Session
  2. S.A.I.L Success Session
  3. Steve’s Birthday!
  4. JLN Masquerade
  5. NEL Opening Mixer
  6. JLN Board Meeting
  7. Super Bowl
  8. First PREVAIL Planning Team Meeting
  9. NEL Facilitator Training
  10. JLN In Home Meeting
  11. JLN 8th Signing at MCJCH
  12. InTune Alpha Chi Omega @ UGA
  13. Brene Brown & Valentine’s Day
  14. Nashville Emerging Leaders
  15. MOTOWN @ TPAC
  16. Relationships Session on Commons
  17. Dare 2 Be @ Crosspoint
  18. Mavenly + Co visit
  19. Tamara’s Goodbye Brunch
  20. IMPACT @ American University
  21. First draft due of book chapter

Feb 2

February Hopes

  1. Submit NELA Application on 2/15
  2. Continue BossyPants and Leadership Instablog research
  3. 3 posts to PeculiarPearl
  4. Complete S.A.I.L Session 2- Authenticity
  5. Send out Doodle for next if:gathering in March
  6. Complete NLC Homework
  7. Finalize plans for EVOLVE
  8. Begin planning for EVOLVE
  9. Start planning for TEDxVanderbiltUniversity 2016!
  10. Beyoncé Tickets!!! Prayers, please!
  11. Set up meetings with at least 2 past JLN Presidents
  12. Set up a dentist appointment
  13. Finalize 33rd Birthday Trip
  14. Pray for an open heart and mind when it comes to this season of my life. Pray that the Lord will give me the strength to embrace it and not let it lead me to lose my faith or hope in His promises. To constantly seek to be intentionally full of light, love, and laughter.
  15. Sweat at least 30 minutes each day (my fitness motivation is not in a good place)
  16. Leave at least 1 blank night a week
  17. Be in bed by midnight
  18. Buy less stuff (2 sweaters from LOFT, new Spanx, mani and pedi for Masquerade)

Now, it’s time to work. 20 days and counting, my friends.

I see it, I want it
I stunt, yeah, little hornet
I dream it, I work hard
I grind ’til I own it… (Beyoncé, Formation)

I’ve updated my January Happenings & Hopes post in case you’d like to see my success rate.

What about you? What’s happening for you during the month of love?

Krystal “I strongly dislike those chalky candy hearts” Clark