every year / everything / I have ever learned / in my lifetime / leads back to this

Although you wouldn’t know it from the weather, April is ending. A lot has happened, and writing has fallen by the wayside as I’ve scrambled to keep up. A few highlights of note from the last month or so:

  • Our TEDxEMU video went up! I am so proud of the work that we’ve done for this project. It was very difficult to sum it all up in fifteen minutes, but I do think that this video provides a good jumping-off point to what Dana, Katie and I have done over the last year, and to what we hope to do with it in the future. More on this later!
  • I finished my counseling classes. It feels surreal. I still have a few more credits to take, but they are in the higher-ed realm and, with one exception, are electives. This is to say that I could choose to be done taking classes right now. Unfortunately I’m not going to, for very boring reasons that are eventual-licensure-related, but the knowledge that I could is pretty incredible.
  • The undergrad student staff that works with me in my office have all had their last days this past week, each of them moving on to bigger and better things. We’ve worked together every day (and many nights) for the last two years, and I can’t really imagine what my life will be like without them. It’s a little sad – but the pride I feel for each of them as they follow their own ambitions (self-authorship!) is, at least for now, eclipsing the gloom that usually comes with my goodbyes. These students have spent the last two years making my job and my life easier, and so I think it’s absolutely fitting that their transition out of our team would come with so much excitement and joy and pride that a normally very difficult good-bye would instead seem so much like a beginning. There is so much ahead of each of them. I cannot wait to see what it is.

The last piece may be the most important, although it seems small in comparison with the other two.  I believe that both counseling and student affairs each revolve around learning from those that you serve – clients and students, respectively. The team I’ve worked with these last two years has been such a perfect introduction to this idea, and they have taught me so much about supervising students in a way that allows me to know them and learn from them.

This is also, strangely, the first good-bye that I’ve been largely okay with, and I think it’s because of what we each brought; for two years, we each worked hard and honestly alongside each other and were open to learning and growing along the way. These are good, smart, bright people – and who I am I to keep that brightness to myself? Until this job, I hadn’t considered that beginning a new year each September also means ending a year every April. Learning to say goodbye, and planting the seeds along the way, is a skill that’s caught me off-guard, but if I hope to continue working with amazing students every year, then it’s a skill I need to continue sharpening.


An excerpt from Mary Oliver, a perennial favorite poet who talks about seasons as cycles and understands a good-bye instinctively, the way the leaves do:

To live in this world

you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.

© 2018 Caroline Horste

I am neither a professional nor an expert, and nothing here should be taken as counsel or legal advice. Along the same vein, nothing here should be taken as representing the views of anybody but myself, including my employers or the organizations I volunteer for. -CH