I am on residence life staff with thirty-two wonderful human beings. We stay up to obnoxiously-late hours "doing homework" and talking about life. We crack jokes and throw send memes to the group chat. We order pizza, make each other tea and eat baked goods instead of giving them to residents. Yet, arguably most of all, we invite each other to events.
These events could be concerts, or an open mic night. They could be bake sales or fundraisers. They could be open invitations to the cafeteria, or to study lounges to work together. They could be programs that we're really excited about, or ones we can't get our residents to come to. Everyone knows that being on staff is having a built-in family that supports each other. And everyone knows that families show up.
My residence life staff has shown me that, sometimes, one of the best ways to love others is to show up to things they are proud of. We all have different love languages, and different ways to give love to each other. Normally, the way that I choose to give love to my friends is through making them tea, giving them hugs and creating space for them to be listened to and cared for. But sometimes I have friends who don't like hugs, who don't drink tea, or who don't want to talk about what they're going through. But through my experience of reslife, I've discovered that attending an event someone is part of is a great way to show your friends that you care.
Granted, time is definitely a factor in how many events one can attend. We all know that college students can barely find time to eat or sleep, let alone go to programs and shows. But even stopping by for five minutes, or just to say 'hello' can make a world of difference to others. My staff and I like to drop by floor programs hosted by other staff members in our building. Even if we can't stay for long, we like to say 'hello', grab some free food and tell the staff members that they're doing a great job. The staff members are generally thrilled if we show up – and, just like your friends, they're not angry if you can't stay. The fact that the effort was made to visit them means so much more.
Attending events doesn't only show that you care for your friend; it also acknowledges the time and care that they put into an event. Your attendance makes their efforts feel acknowledged and recognized. I have definitely felt grateful for people attending my events and recognizing how much care I put into them. For example, my friend and I recently put on a program with the goal to make residents feel supported and valued during midterms season and family weekend. We spent time making cookies and hot chocolate, and brainstorming ways to show residents that we cared. Although we put a lot of love into our program, I did not expect many people to show up. However, when the program started, six of my girls dropped by to support me. They drank hot chocolate with mounds of marshmallows and whipped cream, hung around talking for nearly an hour, and thanked me repeatedly for putting the program on. Three other staff members also stopped by, and, even though they didn't stay the whole time, they made sure to tell us that they enjoyed the program and that we were doing a good job. This support meant the world to me because it validated the time and care that we had put into our event. The attendees told us that our efforts were important by going the extra mile to come to our program.
I know that it takes time and energy to attend events when we're already stressed, busy and overwhelmed. But I encourage us to start going to things that matter to our friends because the five minutes that we spend at their event means exponentially more to them than we can imagine. Some of my friends are trying to show up to every single program that is held in my residence hall to support our staff. Although that seems ambitious, I feel that the staff will feel more supported, valued and cared for as a result. Let's join their efforts in showing our friends love and support. Let's start showing our friends that their time and energy is appreciated. Let's remind our friends how incredible, amazing and talented they are. Let's start showing up.