The words “First Year” in the title refer to two things: being a Resident Assistant (RA) for the first time, and actually being a RA to first year students. The double whammy. Needless to say, I was (and still kinda am) apprehensive about some parts of my new position. Now that Welcome Week is over and classes are about to start, here are 5 First Year RA Apprehensions I’ve had on my mind for the past few days:
- Will my residents like me? In all of my interactions with my residents I’ve been no one other than myself — a quirky girl from Staten Island who loves all things Pokemon, getting up early to row, and studying traffic when I’m stuck at intersections (which, much to my traffic engineering delight, happens pretty often in New York City!). All too often I’ve let my anxieties get the best of me, and I’ve developed exaggerated, imaginary situations where my residents dislike me; daydreams where my residents leave banana peels outside my door every morning to slip on, and abandonment scenarios where they leave me for another RA, or, God forbid, another residence hall! Frankly, I’ve been really hard on myself.
- How awkward is too awkward? In RA training we were told that every once in a while we need to be the awkward person who asks silly questions to start conversations and keep them going. But just how awkward is too awkward? I’ve started conversations with my residents by knocking on their doors and greeting them by saying, “surprise! I have a gift for you — a doorstop!” — is that too awkward?
- Will I be there when they need me? I want my residents to know that I’m here for them if they ever need anything, but will they know that and willingly come to me when they need me? Will I be on their mind when they need help with something in the residence hall (or on campus)? Even beyond that, will I be able to give my residents the time they need to help them? What clubs and other extracurriculars will I need to give up in order to support my residents?
- Will my residents be interested in the programs I plan? Will I be able to plan fun programs that not only entice residents, but also share my enthusiasm about the event planned?
- How will I maintain my own wellness while serving 30 other people? How will I keep my stress levels down so that I can best support my residents?
If you’re a resident of a residence hall anywhere, I hope you take away from this post that RAs are people, too! These are just some of the apprehensions we have in entering this position. Because I framed my apprehensions as a bunch of questions, I hope to revisit them at the end of the semester and answer them based on the experiences I’ll have gained. Here’s to a great first year!