At the end of my freshman year of college, I hit a rough patch with depression. I didn’t recognize the depression because I felt about as depressed as I normally did, but more tired, more anxious, more on-edge. As a newly hired RA for the upcoming academic year, I had one responsibility: to pick up a book that was assigned for reading over the summer.
Instead of retrieving the book from the pick-up location, as I was instructed to do in at least three reminder emails, I dealt with depression and finals and went home for the summer with no book in hand. Halfway through the summer, I emailed the Director of Residence Life at Miami (my boss’s boss’s boss’s boss), asking to have the book sent to me. The director replied promptly, and instead of offering to send the book my way, told me I would have to meet with him in order to pick up the book. Shortly after our email exchange, I made the trek to Oxford to meet in person. I shook with terrified anticipation as I waited in the lobby of the Office of Res Life, knowing my first impression as an RA was not representative of who I was as a person or who I would be in that position. About 30 seconds into my conversation with the director, I was in tears. Not just tears…heaving sobs.
Despite the director’s efforts to calm me down, my guilt won out and I cried through the entire 30-minute meeting. With a kind (albeit pitying) smile, the director assured me that he only wanted to meet to make sure I would be a good RA, that my mistake wouldn’t be habitual. I left feeling determined to do the absolute best that I could and then some.
Roughly three years later, I recounted this narrative with another Director of Residence Life (minus the bit about the sobbing) in response to an interview prompt asking me to talk about a past mistake. With my hair up, blazer on, necktie in place, and portfolio open on the table before me, I gave a brief summary of the incident and the lessons I took from it. About a month later, the same director shook my hand after offering me a position as a Resident Director to begin this July.
Walking to my car this afternoon, I crossed paths with Miami’s Director of Res Life. He asked me about finals and I told him I only had one more and then I’d be done. We talked briefly about how the time had flown by and then the conversation took a different turn. “You’ve done great,” he said, “I hope you enjoy seeing all the ways you’ve made an impact here.”
We parted ways for maybe the last time and it was all I could do to not burst into tears for another 30 minutes.