After I graduated college, I learned how much I didn’t know; and after I started teaching as an adjunct, I learned how much I did know. There is an upside and a downside to listening to yourself talk for almost three hours. The upside is that you are amazed to see how much your memory has retained and how many people have affected your life. The downside is that you can’t turn yourself off for at least an hour after class. It’s draining. It’s always easiest when the class participates.
As a student, it is so easy to fall into the trap of showing up, plopping into your seat, and listening to the professor talk for hours. It’s harder to engage yourself in the dialogue, but that’s exactly what you should be doing. Hearing yourself talk gives you the opportunity to learn more about your world view – or your lack of one. And there is no venue that promotes the open flow and exchange of ideas better than a classroom setting. It’s a chance to grow, to learn about your own life and to see how you fit into history.
The more you live, the more you learn that this saying is true: “Wherever you go, there you are.” You can’t escape yourself. You travel with your body, mind, heart and soul. Strive to be comfortable by yourself – and in yourself – anywhere you go. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.”
We all feel better when we share a part of ourselves in intimate conversation with a friend. How many people actually stop to talk with each other anymore? How many people walk past someone, smile and say, “How are you?” and yet never stop to listen to the answer.
This is our society. It’s one of hellos and good-byes. People are craving the connection that conversation brings. Sending text messages is not genuine conversation.
On a daily basis, you have the ability to choose what ideas you consume, what books you read, what shows you watch, and what types of people you associate with. These factors have the power to make you grow distant from yourself or to enhance who you already are. But you must be in touch with your core value system so that you may make the right choices and know in which direction you want to grow.
The way to hear your inner voice is to share that voice with others. Speak out in class, share ideas, and don’t be self-conscious about your thoughts and opinions. This is the way you learn about yourself and the world around you. This is how you determine how you will play a part to better the world.
How will you bring your gifts and talents to the world stage? How will you leave your mark? What will your legacy be?
If you think about these big questions during your college years, you will spare yourself many years of anxiety. Pondering these questions will guide you into the right first job, and that job will guide you into the next one. Most importantly, you’ll find a way to use your talents to serve humanity from your corner of the world. You will know how to make the right decisions for yourself because you’ll become your own best counselor and friend.
— Debra Scala Giokas ’87
Debra Scala Giokas has been in the field of Legal Marketing for 25 years. For the last 16, she has been working as Marketing Director of Long Island’s second largest law firm, Certilman Balin Adler & Hyman, LLP. Debra shares her love of English as a board advisor for Literacy Nassau which promotes adult literacy in the community. Debra was also an Adjunct Assistant Professor at Dowling College, where she taught an undergraduate course in services marketing for six years. She has been published in a variety of business and legal trades, which includes a quarterly column in the Public Relations Professionals of Long Island’s (PRPLI) newsletter “For Immediate Release.” Debra’s poems have appeared in magazines and literary journals, most recently in the 2014 Nassau County Poet Laureate Review. Debra was recognized by PRPLI with its Mentor Award in 2012. You can follow Debra on Twitter @debrascalag.
Making educated career decisions can be difficult at any stage of career development. The ASK (Alumni Sharing Knowledge) Blog is intended for Stony Brook University students and alumni to learn career knowledge and get advice from experienced alumni, working in various career fields, about lessons learned from their career experiences.