May 2, 2016
You can take me out of the country
But you can't take the country out of me, no
Cause I'm still the girl from [Vidrine]
Had to get away so I could grow
But it don't matter where I'm goin'
I'll still call my hometown home.
-Kacey Musgraves, Dime Store Cowgirl
Vidrine, LA (my hometown) to Baton Rouge. Baton Rouge to Tallahassee. Tallahassee to College Station. College Station to Raleigh. Raleigh to Vidrine. Vidrine to Wilmington, NC. Wilmington to Boston.
I have moved 7 times in the past 16 years.
It is odd to think about it all in hindsight. I grew up in Vidrine, LA, a rural town without a zip code, and stayed in the same house on the same road for 18 years. The first time I packed a box was to become a first generation college student at LSU. In what felt like the biggest move I would ever make, I ventured 1.5 hours southeast to Boston Rouge – the “big city.” There were more people  in my first class at LSU than in my entire high school. People made fun of my Cajun accent and the fact that people in my hometown chased chickens for Mardi Gras. In short, it was quite the transition.
After learning about student affairs as a career option and exploring graduate school programs, I shattered my family’s plan for me by making, in their opinion, the ludicrous decision to move out of state. OUT. OF. STATE. People in my family did not do this. People in my hometown did not do this. What was I doing?!
Pursing a career path. A calling. One that I found. One that found me.
And so it went. I ended up becoming the “two and out” person I once declared I would never be. You know who I mean. The employee who leaves a job after two years to pursue the next phase of their career, in a new position, at a new institution, in a new city. I was that person. I might still be. [And I’m not endorsing that pathway as the right way or even a healthy way.]
Through my 16 years of transitions, I have learned a few things:
Each of my 7 transitions has brought unique challenges and unexpected joys into my life and I like to believe I am a better person and professional because of those experiences. And, even if you do not move locations as part of your transition, starting a new job, adding a partner into your life, adopting a pet, or any other number of life changes can create a period of transition. I tend to equate these choices to skydiving – exhilarating, seemingly irrational at points, a bit stomach turning, and worth the experience (even when the ride is rough).
Deep breaths. You got this.
P.S. If anyone is wondering … the toughest transition I ever experienced was moving back home – into my parents’ house – in that small town of Vidrine, LA as I turned 30. It was also one of the most impactful. Feel free to ask me about it sometime.
Sonja Ardoin (@SonjaArdoin) is a learner, educator, and facilitator. Currently serving as Program Director and Clinical Assistant Professor of Higher Education at Boston University, Sonja is a proud Cajun, first gen to PhD, and scholar-practitioner. She authored The Strategic Guide to Shaping Your Student Affairs Career (2014) and serves with organizations such as NASPA and LeaderShape. Sonja enjoys traveling, dancing, reading, writing, sports, laughing, and spending time with people she loves.
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