Becoming a resident assistant has become one of the most rewarding and mentally draining things I have ever done.
Acting as a mentor and resource to new residents is something I will never take for granted. I get to have an impact on students experience in college. I have been there to help them with the good and bad of figuring out life a way from home.
Although decorating your hall cute and creating fun events is a huge part of this job, there is so much more to it. Something that people can forget, is this is position isn't just a job with long shifts that you can leave and unwind after a long day.
You live where you work and are expected to be there every night.
As an RA, you never know what to expect. From 3 a.m. calls about a lockout, text messages from a resident that something is wrong while you're in class, or knocks on your door at 12 a.m. because someone needs to talk, this job will always be unexpected.
Every day is different and it's hard to prepare yourself to be there for others mentally and emotionally. You become someone they can trust and go to for advice or a friend they just want to rant to.
One of the biggest things I learned in my first semester as an RA, is the importance of taking care of me. I often put my residents and my job first. There isn't anything wrong with this, but it can easily take and did take a toll on my own mental health.
There needs to be a certain balance when it comes to school, work, and social life. It's is so important to be available for your residents, but you can't do that when you aren't taking care of you.
Knowing your limits and when you need to step back to just take care of you is just as important as the job itself. Setting boundaries with residents is important. Remind them you are a student too and can't be there 24/7 to deal with every small issue.
This job comes with a lot of challenges, but I have learned having a positive outlook has reflected in my hall and community. It is easy to find the bad things, but the amazing relationships you form with the people in your hall and staff make it worth it.
At the end of the day, you get to have an impact on students' lives, make the most of it!