Thursday, September 6, 2012

Exhaustion & Responsibility, or: "I'm like a proud parent!"

If you're friends with me on Facebook - and admittedly the likelihood is astronomical considering Facebook is practically my only avenue for advertisement - it won't come as a surprise to you when I say that yes, this year I'm a residence don with my university.  Fact: I've had a number of people, either teammates or otherwise, tell me that all they've seen on their newsfeed has been more uploads of pictures of me, and while I'm sorry I can say 1. they're encapsulating the fun and the friends I've made since mid-August over training and 2. I look very good in them so bask in my rugged handsomeness.  As much as it seems like overload, I think I'm still just so intoxicated by enthusiasm about my new job that I'm taking it upon myself to share it at any given moment.  (including less-than-receptive cashiers)

All the excitement taken into account, it still feels weird to actually be a don; surreal, maybe.  For instance last night was my first don-on-duty shift, and if you're unfamiliar with what that means, it's basically a period from 5pm until 9am the next morning where I'm designated as the first responder to any emergencies that might arise in my area (townhouses) whether it be mastering lock-outs or attending to noise complaints and - knock on wood I won't ever have to deal with it, cause I didn't last night - breaking up social gatherings.  Last night's shift proved stressful, so much so that - and I'm not happy with myself for doing so - I let the stress and frustration overtake me.  Perhaps it was the overload of new responsibility or perhaps it was due to the hiccups that prevented attaining my idea of a flawless duty shift, but regardless, I survived.  Only one duty phone call regarding a work order, luckily no calls throughout the night as I slept (but for whatever reason the phone didn't receive any messages.. until it received all messages at 5am going off like a bomb which scared the living daylights out of me.  The delirious Matt literally falling onto the floor in shock would've been a funny sight to see, I bet you), no wild animals sighted, and a slew of situations involving approaching students who might've been drinking and assuring they were having a nice night; so good, overall.  And yet, it's still so surreal.  To think that, technically, I'm working even right now as my students' resource is bizarre to me; I have yet to accept that I'll be working full time here on campus all the while remaining a student, too.

And that's something that has scared me in a sense: I've thought of nothing but this job and its responsibilities and excitements for the past three weeks that I've literally forgotten about being a fourth year university student, and crap, that means I'm graduating at the end of this year.  Syllabi are slowly appearing online and it's becoming a scary reality to me that I have six courses first semester, the semester that kicks off in now four days, all courses highly intensive in terms of reading and writing.  The prospect of challenging my time management and stress control (what with balancing being a don and being a student) is intriguing to me, but I know at the end of the day, I'm a student first.  That isn't to say I'm going to disregard my don responsibilities, obviously.  I suppose I should stop wasting my few days off and start putting don-related ideas into practice so that my outlook might be a little less weighted down come Monday, come midterms, or come the inevitable crack in my mentality that usually happens around the last few weeks of a semester.  I have ideas about what I'd like to provide for my community in the form of programming (aha, programming! either active or passive, but always with an intended outcome of learning), but it's a matter of setting these gears into motion and reaping the benefit.

Ah, my students.  That's something else that nearly baffles me: I have students.  I've met the majority of them already over the residence orientation this past weekend, and I'm already feeling somewhat confident with their faces and names.  Over just forty-eight hours I could note a marked change in comfort; the first day brought about nerves, and rightfully so, as I doubt I would be able to function without nerves within hours of moving out on my own for the first time.  Come the second community meeting - fingers crossed they went well, by the way; I feel they did, cause they're laughing at my jokes and had fun playing the games - I could see a higher willingness to speak up or participate, though I know total comfort has yet to come.  It gives me this inflated feeling of pride to think about my role this year, without sounding pretentious or presumptuous.  I'm excited to provide for my students, and I can't wait to see the things they provide for me from the experience, too.  I make jokes about seeming like a proud parent, and it's funny that I already think that considering I've had just mere days with my students; I can flashforward to the end of the year and can see me surrounded by cats or something drastic to match my overly-gushy persona.

As I mentioned I'd been going nonstop up until this past Monday, and that might've been one of the biggest things that scared me most - the fact that training ended and literally a day later, boom, I was legitimately and officially a don.  I almost wish training never ended: yeah, I complained during, mostly because of the obscenely early mornings and long days (I suppose I should've spent more time sleeping, but whatever), but I can look backward fondly upon the things I took away from the many sessions I went through.  I find myself actively listening to even my best friends, and for the sake of a don mystique, I won't disclose how to actively listen; ha.  But along with the vast arsenal of knowledge I came away with, I also came away with something perhaps even greater: friends.  I miss living altogether in the same building, smiling to whoever you passed in the hall.  I think I'm honestly thankful for the chance to meet the amazing people that I did especially because I sometimes can admit to myself that I have great difficulties with carrying conversations or meeting people to begin with.  I lack a measure of confidence when it comes to socialization, but I'd say what lacks has at least been compensated for by what I took away from training, no doubt brought about by the nonstop interactive nature of the training set-up, anyways.  (that is: traveling everywhere all together, socials, living with training roommates who I miss already) It's always good to see your humour be well-received, too.

But with the benefit came the exhaustion, and therein lies the whiplash I've experienced with transitioning from trainee to full-fledged qualified.  There was so little time to even reflect on the areas in which I had doubts; but at the same time comes the teaching reiterated over and over throughout training that we aren't expected to be flawless - especially given that 75% of the team is freshly new this year - so it's something the perfectionist has to come to terms with.  Even in my first duty shift last night I can see the holes of imperfection that make me uneasy (that isn't to say, of course, I didn't do my job whatsoever, I just some minor questions) but it's done now.  I'm excited, though, for the chance to grow as a person, and to discover more things about myself that I might not even know are there currently.

I know that this year will yield some great things for me.  I've already met the great people, started on the (this is so cliched, I'm so sorry) great journey of actually being a don for my students (my students, weird still) that is sure to bring me some new stresses but mostly and certainly new opportunities, lessons, and fond memories.