Now that I'm no longer an RA, I wanted to share some things that I learned about being a Resident Assistant. Anyone who attended college has had experience talking with an RA, we're everywhere. Overall, being an RA was the most challenging and most rewarding thing I have ever done, and I highly recommend it. I've grown so much because of this job, and I know that I'll take all of the things I learned with me when I start on new opportunities.
So, here goes... seven things I learned as a Resident Assistant.
1. People often forget that you are a ________, too.
I was an RA for two years, and I don't know why but for some reason everyone thinks that being an RA is the only thing that RAs do. Nope. I've had residents who were shocked to know I was also a student. And a volunteer. And involved in campus activities. And that I had a family and friends I spent time with outside of the residence hall. And probably that I was also a person. So weird. They were also shocked to hear how much time goes into being an RA (roughly ten-fifty hours a week, depending on the week) and all of the things we have to do.
2. It's possible for someone to get mad at you over their own mistakes.
It's not fun to confront people. It's not fun to document. It's also not fun to be yelled a by a drunk resident for documenting them because they are drunk. And to be glared at for the rest of the year by those people who got into trouble because of their own actions. I learned to do my job and be as friendly as possible while doing so, how others chose to react was on them- not me.
3. There are some amazing, hard working, dedicated people out there.
Not that I didn't know this already, but seriously- my boss, my staff members both years, and my residents were some of the most incredible people I have ever met and I hope I stay in contact with them for the rest of my life. Campus Housing is an interesting field, and it takes a lot of hard working people for everything to be successful. I'm in awe of the things I saw get accomplished and the situations I saw defused because of their talents.
4. College is weird.
College students think of the strangest things to do. I don't even know how to explain that. Being an RA is just never boring. If you're expecting a boring job, don't apply.
5. Regular sleep is something I took for granted.
Long forgotten are the days when I could sleep completely through the night without wondering if someone was going to call or knock on my door at 3am. RAs use this terrible device called the duty phone so residents who are locked out or have other concerns can call at night and get assistance. This thing rings at literally any time of the night- 2 am, 4am, 5am. And the ringtone is guaranteed to be terrible. I will never, ever, hear that ringtone and not instantly panic, for as long as I live. So much lost sleep because of that thing.
6. I'm capable of much more than I ever thought.
I've developed two themed communities, helped 60+ students navigate college, hosted over forty educational programs, dealt with various incidents, learned a lot about a lot, and grown as a leader and a person in ways I never even imagined I could.
7. I'd do it all again in a heartbeat.
And you should too, if being an RA is something you can still do. :)