Introversion Conversion: I’m Social Now

IMG_0830 By: Anna Sobczyk

One of the lessons I’ve come across being an RA is that you really have to invest time into growing and maintaining relationships. In order to build community amongst my residents, it tookprogramming and being intentionally present in the halls to support them. At the same time, being an RA would be incredibly lonely and hard without the trust and camaraderie of my staff team. While there’s always our weekly staff meeting to look forward to, it’s the time we spend with one another outside of the “job” that really brings us together. With so many new people in my life, I feared that I was letting my old friends slide to the back burner. It would be easy to let the RA role consume my life, but making time for the friends who have supported me since the beginning keeps me grounded.

I’ve been an introvert my entire life. Any time I spent socializing meant I needed an equal amount of time alone—if not more—in order to recharge. Balancing so many social groups started off as overwhelming and exhausting. Now, I’ve noticed that being around my friends and peers energizes me—even if I go days without snagging some alone time. Even though being an RA can be stressful, there’s no denying that I’m much more openly appreciative of the people I have in my life because of it. Still, I’m an introvert at heart. I have those days where I don’t want to see another human soul, but those days are now few and far between.

The Beginning of Sophomore Year

“Wow Haley! Haven’t seen you all summer. How’s it going?”

I had taken the long way home back to my dorm, holding a large stack of community posters to decorate my halls, when I ran into an old friend from my first year in the dorms. We held a quick/friendly conversation in the middle of the street.

“I’m doing just fine what about you?”

He and his girlfriend had just gotten back from a concert, all bubbly and tired from the show.

“So what’s new with you? Where are you living this year?” he asked.

“Oh, I became an RA. I live in Stephen Epler now.”

That’s when the conversation changed. The street suddenly became silent. I felt a tiny shiver from his spontaneous speechlessness. With TV-series-like drama, he uttered the words, “Oh, an RA? …We’re enemies now.” And simply walked off into the night. No goodbyes were given. His girlfriend gave me a heinous stare before whipping her head around to join him.

It never hit me till walking home that Wednesday night. This is now my life. My name is Haley Heynderickx, and I decided to become a Resident Assistant (RA). I live on campus and try to build community in our residence halls. I introduce students to other students, listen to their problems, and try to make a difference in their lives. I am a good person. I go to school full time, record and play music around Portland, make time for my friends and, to top this off, work.

How am I supposed to feel like a normal student, though, when I have this “RA Sticker” permanently stapled to my forehead? Every day I make an effort to prove to the world that RA’s have feelings and emotions like normal human beings. Our jobs are not to “go and get you in trouble” when the opportunity arises. Our jobs are to keep the peace! We do not seek for drama. We just fix it when it arises.

Please on-campus readers, if you have any space in that Portland-loving heart of yours, take this desperate plea to respect us RA’s. We put time into those posters, don’t rip them down. We make time to get to know you, not annoy you. RA’s are friends, not fiends.