Being an RA is more difficult than advertised

Don’t get me wrong, being an RA can be pretty fantastic sometimes. I work with some wonderful people and I have the chance to create compassionate and productive relationships in a community living space. I love this part of my job. Unfortunately, there are a couple of things about being an RA that really grind my gears. 

Two things, really: I cannot stay up late to save my life, and I have a weak stomach. Staying up late is, unfortunately, a huge part of my job as an RA. On Fridays and Saturdays, I stay up until 2:00 a.m. for rounds, and as someone who regularly goes to bed around 10:30, this really messes with my sleep schedule. I might sound like a wimp, but when it’s your job to knock on the doors of intoxicated residents at two in the morning because their neighbors cannot sleep, you start to hate your job. Weekend after weekend — it gets a little old. 

Now for that second part: the weak stomach. Last night during rounds there was something on the wall. I scraped it with my shoe and the most blood-curdling stench reached my sleep-deprived nostrils. It was absolutely, 100%, the vomit from some guy who drank too much and had since disappeared. 

Thanks for the gift, buddy. 

It’s moments like these that make me thankful to be an RA at an institution that pays us less than almost any other in the entire Midwest. 

That aside, there are a whole slew of skill-building, leadership training, and experience-offering moments I’ve had the privilege of having as an RA; not to mention the wonderful connections I’ve made, the certifications I have had the ability to earn, and the unforgettable moments with great residents (now friends). 

Great stuff aside though, I wish I had known what I was going into when I first applied. Being an RA is a whole lot of fun, and it’s a whole lot of work. If you’re not ready to sacrifice sleep, space, and peace of mind, then this probably isn’t the job for you. If you’re able to overlook these aspects of the job, and you’re ready to do what it takes, then more power to you. All I’m saying is that maybe I wasn’t prepared for all of this when I applied.