A lot has been written about authenticity in student affairs work. In the ACPA and NASPA Professional Competency Areas for Student Affairs Practitioners, the Personal Foundations competency states that at the intermediate level one should be able to “identify the effect between one’s personal and professional lives, and develop plans to manage any related concerns”. Ultimately, we have been asked to bring our “authentic selves” to our work with students.
I believe the concept of authenticity has a ton of baggage that comes along with it: as the concept exists somewhere within the parameters of what YOU think is appropriate and what OTHERS in the profession think is appropriate. You have to be ready to know just how much of the REAL you is appropriate to share. You also have to know when your work and professional selves intersect and when they are separate. Ultimately, you have to reconcile to what extent your approach to authenticity aligns or counters with the perspectives of others and the expectations of the field. It is for you to reconcile and if you can come away saying “I am authentic” then that’s great. If you come away thinking that you have a hidden or contradictory self then you might consider what needs to give. Either way, a harsh reality is that you will be asked to explain yourself. Just have your response ready and prepare to disagree with someone that your idea of authenticity and theirs may differ.
What issues do you think place your authenticity into question?
To what extent does our walk and talk need to be synonymous?
What can you do to “manage related concerns” and strengthen your personal foundation?