Everything I want to say to my first-year residents but don’t know how

Cozy Huggins, a junior political science major and residential adviser, sits down with Resident Life Coordinator Ata Siulua to share their stories of the day. Although Huggins’s authoritative role can seem intimidating to some, she said she is always there to talk to about breakups, bad days or cream-cheese shortages in Shaw. Photo by Chloie Dale. 

Cozy Huggins, a junior political science major and residential adviser, sits down with Resident Life Coordinator Ata Siulua to share their stories of the day. Although Huggins’s authoritative role can seem intimidating to some, she said she is always there to talk to about breakups, bad days or cream-cheese shortages in Shaw. Photo by Chloie Dale. 

Heyo,

It’s me—your friendly neighborhood residential adviser (RA). You might know me from the first floor meeting, where I awkwardly talked about policies loudly in your face, or perhaps from those passive aggressive signs about keeping the microwave clean.

I didn’t become an RA just for the monetary benefits. Although that was a large motivator, it’s not what made me stick around. Believe me—sometimes my job makes me want to walk around à la the shame nun from Game of Thrones, but I get to know you. And at the end of the day, that has changed my life in ways I haven’t quite realized yet.

That’s the gist of this whole operation, whether I exist to you as a peripheral figure who occasionally unlocks a door or we talk on a regular basis. I care about you. In fact, I will always care about you.

I know that right now things might be extremely difficult, and you’re here sitting across from me not knowing what to say or how to say it. The truth? In this moment, I’m panicking because as much as I’ve searched for it, there’s not a how to manual for living life or adjusting to college. I’m only one to two years older than you; I harbor no life-changing advice or wisdom aside from an ample amount of chocolate and tissues.

I don’t know how to make the pain disappear or the perfect way to miss someone who lives three states away. I don’t know the perfect way to let go of your high school love. I don’t always know the right thing to say or how to say it.

But there are some things I do know.

It’s okay that you’re feeling too much and that Shaw’s cream cheese outage feels like the end of the world. Just know it’s not the end of your world. Not today.

You deserve the beauty that comes with a successful load of laundry and making popcorn just right without burning it. You deserve these things for no reason other than the fact that you’re here. Breathe with me: one, two, three. You’re doing better than you think. You’re capable of more than you think. If today is not your day, it’s not your day. There will be more of them. Breathe.

It’s not your job to have everything figured out right now or automatically know how to fill out a FAFSA. There are no right or wrong answers. If today is not the time to knock down everything on your to do list, it’s not the time. It’s okay to need help; everyone does at some point. Taking a break doesn’t equal giving up—not now and not ever.

I know you miss your family and sometimes it hurts an indescribable amount. So call them. Tell them you love them and miss them with all your heart. Send them love every time you think of them. Just remember, you are not existing as a separate entity to the ones you love right now. The tree is still intact. You just get to grow your own leaf now—and what would new life be without some growing pains?

It sucks right now, but this is not your end. It will not defeat you; this is a part of life and you’re not figuring it out alone. We’re right there with you. And trust me, you’re doing a hell of a job. The very best you can. It will be alright at the end—whether that comes in a day, a week or the end of the semester. That’s how this works. I believe that with my whole heart. It must be okay in the end, or it’s not over.

You are not a failure. You aren’t letting anybody down by giving yourself the time and space to be a human and transition to a new phase of life. It can be exciting, wonderful, awful, lonely, terrifying, lovely, brilliant and new. But right now you’re okay. I don’t know what your step two looks like, but that seems like a pretty great start to figuring it out.