The Resident Assistants job is not an easy one; I make this statement from experience. But when it comes right down to it, it is YOU that will make the difference in your personal view of the position. As an RA some very important things to take into account are diversity, community, teamwork, responsibility, and of course all of these things are very important to the job. However, if you don’t have the right attitude, then you’re probably not meeting all of your potential. Attitude is KEY to being your best for your residents, staff, building and whomever else you are around.
Being an RA is like being handed a Public Relations degree, and we need to act accordingly. If you have a bad attitude about everything, are too busy for your residents, staff, etc. then I will guarantee that things will not be happy for you. And when it comes to you being unhappy in your position you may want to reconsider being an RA, because it might not be for you. I know that it is not always easy to have the best attitude, but keeping a good attitude will benefit you in several ways: you won’t feel so bad, your floor will be happy, the morale on your staff will be better. Things have a way of working out a lot better when you have a good attitude.
Attitude in the position of being an RA encompasses a vast array of areas. On your floor, your residents look at you as an example, and if they see a constant positive attitude about things, then it tends to make them have a more positive attitude in general. This makes their quality of life in the residence hall environment a lot better. On the flip side, if you are down all the time and constantly complaining, then that will most likely bring your resident’s spirits down as well. Your attitude also affects your fellow staff members. As an RA you have staff meetings, residents to facilitate community with, duty schedules, late nights dealing with incidents, your own classes to deal with, and countless other activities that keep you busy. In lieu of this, it is very understandable that one would be stressed out. Having a good attitude with your staff is very important to your staff community. If you realize that your staff is there to help you, then you are ahead of the game. Talk to them about what is going on, they may even be going through similar problems.
It is hard to always keep a positive attitude, and you do not always have to have the perfect attitude. We are human and we can be angry (or however one feels), but make sure you are healthy about it and not venting those emotions onto your residents and fellow staff members. Find an outlet to release your stress in a healthy way. Be it talking with friends outside the residence hall, working out, taking a walk, listening to music, do whatever it is that will help you alleviate your stress. This will bring you back to having that positive attitude that people look to you for. This is most important for your being able to do your job to the best of your ability. If you are not healthy, then you are not able to give 100% to everything. I say everything because you are not just an RA, you are also a student and you have friends, significant others, family and other things that you also need to attend to on a regular basis.
Relating back to your position as an RA, your attitude in dealing with incidents can either help or hurt you. You will find that those you have to discipline may not always be the most cooperative people sometimes, and you will also encounter residents who will be very cooperative. In situations where you have to act as a disciplinarian, if you stay calm, and speak in a quiet but firm voice, you are in control of the situation. It is important not to lower yourself to the yelling and cursing, or acting ticked off in general. You need to be cautious so your residents don’t act out towards you. This is definitely not an easy thing, but if you handle it well, then those residents will most likely respect you more for your demeanor.
Your attitude will make the difference in how much you enjoy your position. Having a positive attitude will make your experience as an RA so much better and you will find that the good far outweighs the bad. If you are able to keep that positive attitude all the time, then my hat goes off to you. It is hard to not get frustrated or angry and not have it affect those around you. Keep this in mind, YOU are human and it is ok to be occasionally mad, sad, or frustrated. Remember though, however you feel, deal with it in a healthy way and you will be just fine.
Submitted by Bo Clarke, Resident Assistant, Appalachian State University