Get grounded before training starts

Dear incoming RAs,

In this time just before training starts, I find myself buzzing with energy, but also feeling a little ungrounded. I’m looking back on this time two years ago, right before my first training, and wondering, “what do I wish I could have said to myself back then?” Funnily enough, all the things I would say are things I find I still want and need to do today. Here are 5 ways to get a little extra grounded before training:

1. Watch or re-watch this:`

Spending time finding your own ‘why’ is one of the beautiful things about being an RA.

I don’t know if this will help get you started, but this photo, which is the banner of this website, has my all time favorite answer for why I do what I do: photo (17)

2. Filling my google calender with my first month of community builders and notes to myself (lists of things I need, tasks to accomplish). The first month is an important time, and also a crazy time, and having that first month planned out a bit helps me feel like I have a little more control.

3. Making a facebook group for my staff team (someone else beat me to it this year!) This is an idea one of my wonderful staff team mates had last year, and it was wonderful. It is great for little communications, like when you want to know when a staff meeting is, or a duty swap question, but more importantly, it is a beautiful place for all sorts of silliness. And silliness is the lifeblood of a staff team.

4. Writing. I need all the emotional bandwidth I got for the start of the year, and writing, whether it is about being an RA or not, opens my brain and my heart up like nothing else.

5. List writing. I am going to draft a list ideas for door decs, hall themes, and random things I want to do. Often I will write a few few values at the top of the paper to keep me grounded in my mission, or I’ll just start with the values and free write about ways to accomplish my goals.

Other thoughts you may want to toss around:

  • Become friends with your staff team and your AD if it is in any way possible. These people can change your life if you throw yourself into the process. I have found that returning RAs have a lot of power when it comes to setting the staff dynamic. So, new RAs, if you are finding you don’t love your staff dynamic, maybe see if you can befriend a couple of the returning RAs and ask how they feel about it. By planting it in their minds, they may realize they want change too, and realize how they can positively use whatever authority their seniority gives them.
  • Plan programs and events selfishly. If you throw an event that makes you happy, you are already winning and other people will probably love it too. So, think; what experiences do you wish you could have?
  • Personally, I like to keep track of the positive feedback I get. If you want to do the same, get a small book, or a stack of post it notes, or something, and write down all the nice things people say about you and the moments of powerful connection you have with RA’s, AD’s, and your residents, especially of the first month or so. Write anything that inspires you. Return to this book when you’re feeling low. I found it helped me on many a low day.
  • Use being an RA as an excuse to do the things you want to do anyways. Change your school, meet with whomever, be ridiculous in public. As an RA, people will not be surprised when you stick your nose around. Take advantage of it.

Have faith that indeed, YOU ARE HERE FOR A REASON. Here is to you, and the journey you’re about to begin!

–love, me

RA Pinterest

I created a pinterest account just for RA related things.

Originally, my RA related ideas were contained on a board on my personal pinterest. I created a whole RA specific account because I wanted to have separate boards for community builders, door decs, decoration ideas, and many other random ideas. That way, when you are looking for inspiration on a given topic, you can look at a page specific only to your task. Plus, certain boards are ideas in themselves; I have a DIY dorm medicine board which has home remedies for some basic ailments your residents might encounter. I want my pinterest to provide ONE THING: inspiration, to get your head racing and to lift your spirits when you’re discouraged. Fight on, have fun, you are here for a reason.

Stay inspired.



A little note on finding what you’re looking for…

I plan on using a lot of hashtags. First of all because I am a little bit sick and twisted inside, but secondly so that it is easy to identify which topic is most relevant to you as a person or RA (since the subjects are essentially endless). To that end, I have six main categories and subjects–allow me to give you a, ahem, HASH course n the matter *cue groans.*

  • Personal Development; philosophical thoughts, reflections, discussions of different personalities, creating personal change, self-awareness…you get the idea.
  • Building Community; dorm things, building a group dynamic.
  • Building Personal Relationships; building friendships, getting your residents to approach you, having one-on-ones, helping them through serious issues, etc.
  • Perspective; anything that is valuable, not because it helps contribute to the dorm experience, but because of its relevance to the campus, life outside of college, or life after college.
  • Campus Living Life; the staff team, professional development, RA life
  • Finding a Sense of Purpose: the ways what we do is important and meaningful

Of course, you can also use the search bar. But why am I teaching YOU how to internet? You are probably a cold and calculating supercomputer analyzing the end of mankind anyways. Well, thanks for helping me look at pictures of puppies, supercomputer!

Why I want to have an entire blog devoted to ‘being an RA’…

It is not an uncommon experience that being an RA will change your life. I, personally, am obsessed with this job. It is one of the most wonderful jobs I could fathom. Imagine this: 19 year old me who has hardly had a job in her life was given 30 residents.  My job was to create an experience for them, and to become an influence on their lives. What the wonderful.

I often say that I have learned more from my time as an RA than I have from all of my classes. In truth, this job has taught me more about life than any other experience I have had. It has allowed me to change who I am; today, I am much more like the person I want to be than I was when I began. I won’t get the chance to live in a house off-campus with my friends, or to be a wild and crazy college student all the time, but in exchange, I have had what I call “my three year life-skills and leadership program” and there is no question in my mind about whether it was worth it.

This job inspires me; it gives me hope; it makes me believe I can do powerful things with my life. I am hoping to share some of those moments of inspiration in the hopes that they may do the same for other RAs.