Welcome aboard one of the most rewarding experiences of your undergraduate career. Don’t get me wrong, it can also be exhausting, but the kind of exhaustion that gives you a content satisfaction of accomplishment. Being an HA has been a life-lesson for me thus far, crowned by dedication, time-management, and most of all, compassion. Yes, it’s all about being compassionate with your residents and understanding the differences in our college experiences, but mostly, this role taught me to be compassionate with MYSELF.
As Bryn Mawr students, and student leaders in particular, we strive to always be there for others, and through that process, become perfect role models. Now, say it with me: “I am not perfect.” You were chosen for this role because you are qualified to fulfill it. You do not need to prove yourself to anyone, nor do you need to win anyone over. You deserve alone-time, and you are allowed to be away from your hall when you want to be. These are things I wish I had known before being an HA, and that I learned, ironically, by doing the opposite.
My year as an HA started with one major conflict on the hall, during which, quite frankly, I became overwhelmed. Luckily, I had been paying attention during our training sessions, but did not expect to have to implement my training so quickly. Though stressful, this experience proved to me that I am fully qualified for this role, and eliminated any doubts I had going forward. In some ways, I grew closer to my residents, who felt like they could trust me and resort to me when they are in crisis, and in other ways, I learned that I cannot do everything by myself. This is why we have a whole DLT, Residential Life, the Deans, Campus Safety, the Honor Board, Counseling Center….So here’s my message: Although your role is vital, you are not the only resource for your residents, and it is okay to say “I don’t know” and resort to other persons, who are trained to facilitate conflict and be as supportive as you. In a lot of ways, my rocky beginning as an HA was the worst and best learning experience I have taken away from the role.
In a nutshell, you will have times when you need to compromise your personal time for the sake of someone else, and that is what this role is all about. However, you will also learn how to value your time and respect your own space when you need it. Don’t forget to have fun, make friends, and GO TO AREA GROUP; it’s the best support I have had at Bryn Mawr! Remember, you are already an amazing, imperfect HA, so all you need to do is take everything in, and be yourself!