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:
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!