By Anna Pearson
Sometimes, being a freshman resident assistant means finding out that a boy peed in the urinals in your all-girls bathroom, because you live on a floor that hasn’t been renovated since it was a men’s floor years ago.
Sometimes, being a freshman RA means losing every intramural volleyball game on a team with residents, but laughing so hard you get a stitch in your side and can’t even pay attention to the game.
Sometimes, being a freshman RA means stopping at Taco Bell on your way back from the MOA Nickelodeon night only to find out that the location you got directions to is closed – so you go to another one, because you all deserve some good late-night T-Bell.
In the spring, when RA placements are sent out, many waiting eyes refresh their Bethel emails with hopes to see a “Congratulations!” message from Residence Life. People scramble to text everyone they know who applied, compiling a list on their notes app of which RA team will be leading their dorm to victory in homecoming the next fall.
When I got that exhilarating email, little did I know that I would become a mom in August to 20 18-year-olds whose parents just dropped them off into a swarm of Welcome Weekers.
Sometimes, being a freshman RA means thinking about how much the freshmen have grown from high schoolers into college students. They entered my life as a list of names on a spreadsheet – and now they’re people I wouldn’t be able to imagine living my junior year without.
I never would have met someone two years younger than me with a business major on the track team, but now I spend Thursday afternoons helping to choreograph a solo with her in the Wellness Center studio for her hometown’s pageant competition.
I wouldn’t have known how popular Shirley Temples would be on my floor, how often I would go to the drink aisles of Target and Cub in order to get ingredients for them or that my residents would buy a liter of grenadine to keep up with their mocktail and debrief sessions.
My first ever shack event – a Just Dance night – was filled with eager but nervous freshmen who had probably been asked over fifty times that week what their name, major, and hometown are.
My first week of school made me feel like a freshman again. Excitedly staying up talking to new people. Adding things to my Google Calendar like nobody’s business. Jumping into the middle of the dance circle on freshman hill to do the jerk with my dorm next-door neighbor. Discovering how fun swing dancing was with my co-RA when we brought thirty freshmen to the Ukrainian American Community Center on a Thursday night.
Some days I lock myself in my room like Rapunzel – blasting a Pitch Perfect riff-off on my JBL speaker without worrying a roommate will walk in on me. Other days, residents knock on my door at 11 p.m. to ask if I can edit their Reporting I stories.
Someone once told me, “Everyone knows who you are. You’re an RA.”
My freshman year, I thought my RA knew everything. How to help me clear up space on my computer, how to resolve friendship conflict and what movie to watch with friends on a Friday night. I now know that RAs are just as clueless as everyone else when it comes to knowing what we’re doing in everyday life, but we have a title before our name to say that we probably will be able to handle it. It can be overwhelming to have class, work, extracurriculars, shack and a social life all in one day, yet being an RA is more fulfilling than any other leadership role that I’ve had.
I have a team of people around me to talk about the latest freshman drama and pray for me during my busiest weeks. I have my own room, complete with a couch to cuddle with Squishmallows and a coffee corner to make mid DIY lattes.
And most importantly, I have the sweetest residents, ready to take on the world armed with meme walls, prayer boards, goodnight songs, Chick-Fil-A free sandwich cards and a pinch of optimism.
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