By Elizabeth Babadzhanova
When I started this job, in September 2011, my dad presented me with a challenge. He dared me to leave work at work. My previous experiences showed me that it was easy to get sucked into the politics of a job and have stresses follow into your personal life. I accepted his challenge and started my new job as a Writing and Communication Consultant with this new goal of leaving my work baggage at the door. I was determined to distance myself.
But I failed, quite miserably. And to be honest I couldn’t be happier about it. I found a home in my work. I found a boss who was my mentor and someone who genuinely cared. I found coworkers who helped form my work family, and (rather quickly) we formed valuable friendships. The more I connected to my work and the people around me, the more I felt myself letting work into my personal life.
Not only did I find a home in my work environment, but I found a home in the work that I did. I was able to take my love for teaching and combine it with my passion for writing. I met students on a daily basis, and as our consultations moved forward creating an equal relationship was all it took to get students to open up and be more intimate with their writing. Surprisingly, there wasn’t stress from the job, and I was able to focus on the friendships that continued outside of work.
I didn’t just tutor; I learned how to build strong relationships. I still remember one particular student for being the first to truly show me the value of my work. She returned to earn her BS in Nursing after years of working as a nurse. Our tutor-student relationship grew stronger with each session. I could tell what she wanted to say, and she was great at predicting what questions I would ask her next.
Towards her last quarter, it became incredibly evident that her grammar improved and her knowledge of how to fix grammatical errors expanded. Her ideas connected logically, and her overall understanding of the writing process improved to the point that she felt confident spending more time writing independently.
As winter quarter became busy, she stopped by many times to say her goodbyes. Yet my work schedule made it impossible to find a free minute to chat. Then, sadly, the quarter ended and she was gone. I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye and tell her that she helped me see the importance of my job.
About a month later, already a few weeks into spring quarter, a familiar face caught my attention as I walked out of class. She had come back to say goodbye, and I was so happy to see my friend once again. We talked for a while. I asked about her kids and she asked about my quarter. She had so much pride in her eyes. It was at that moment that I understood what it meant to help someone succeed. After a long and pleasant conversation, she thanked me over and over, and we went our separate ways.
So here’s what I have learned: when you love what you do, give it your all. You will be astonished with the outcome. Never expect the worst, take your pessimism and throw it out the window. Keep an open mind and be ready for new opportunities. Even though failing isn’t exactly something that is encouraged at The Writing and Communication Center, sometimes it is something that you need to experience in order to learn more about yourself. I did, not intentionally, and the result was better than I could imagine. I can honestly say that for once I love my job.