Keychain with compass leading the way
Keychain I received on RA Appreciation Day.

A Compass to Leading the Way

There’s no better way to realize your strengths than to have someone ask you about your flaws.

The form I had to fill out to reapply to be an RA was simple – I needed to get feedback from my residents and my peers and reflect on my strengths and weaknesses. It should have been straightforward. I felt as though I was failing in some areas of being an RA, and that I had a lot to work on. I prepared myself for the harsh feedback and was ready to grow and change.

What I was not prepared for was appreciation.

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Somehow, in the midst of midnight poster-making and last-minute program planning, I had made a difference in the lives of my residents. It was spelled out for me on the feedback forms they filled out – that my programs had been helpful, my mediations had brought about change, and my enthusiasm had inspired them. It wasn’t what I had expected.

Even though sometimes I feel disorganized and inadequate, I’ve made a difference. And it has not gone unnoticed, or unappreciated.

Not only did my residents give me positive feedback, but there was another surprise for me on RA Appreciation Day. The Campus Life Staff arranged a free lunch and goody bags for all of the RAs and CAs to show their appreciation. Amid the cool pen, sunglasses, chocolate, and Arcadia tattoos, was a keychain.

It’s simple just a compass, a small arrow, and a little tag. The words on it say: Leading the way.

Even though my key lanyard already has a million keychains and pins, I added the little compass to it. Every time I catch a glimpse of it in the light, or see those three words, I’m reminded that I need to take pride in my work. Even though sometimes I feel disorganized and inadequate, I’ve made a difference. And it has not gone unnoticed, or unappreciated.

A simple keychain has made me determined to show more appreciation for the leaders in my life. Too often our teachers, mentors, parents, and friends work overtime and worry without any way of knowing how much of a difference they’ve made. The time it takes to simply say “thank you” can make all the difference, and remind someone why they decided to do what they do in the first place.