One of the topics today during our RA Training was one given during the Devotional by our Campus Minister. Surprisingly Terry-Michael didn’t say a whole lot to us and instead allowed us to talk back to him and make suggestions on his general topic of campus community.
In his opinion there are a lot of groups at Campbell, pockets here and there, based on clubs, ideologies, majors and friends. That in itself isn’t bad, as we came to agree on later, but the problem arises when those groups become exclusive and all of a sudden everyone at Campbell loses a sense of overall community and identity.
Once he finished his short message I raised my hand from the audience of about fifty resident assistants and resident directors and I said I understood what he was saying. I told him, and everyone around me, that when I first came to Campbell I viewed things very differently. For the first week, I walked up to anyone, sat down with anyone and communicated with whoever I wanted to blind to any affiliations or pockets of people. It only took about a week before that changed. What I had admired, as a quality of this place which made it so different from high school, then disappeared. There were groups, pockets, friends, organizations, grade point averages and majors to consider, not to mention classifications. I had to be careful who I talked to and who talked to me. All of a sudden it was far too much like high school and since that time, three years ago, I have been trying to get back to my first week.
Terry-Michael agreed with my perception of things and how that mentality can develop so easily. “Perceived boundaries” could be tremendous stumbling blocks to overcome, he said. We set up things in our minds which we think really exist, but when we confront them (as I have been trying to do) we slowly realize they are not as real as we thought.
Later that day during one of our breaks Toni, one of the resident directors on women’s campus, turned around in her chair and said, “I have to tell you something…What you said today really struck me and I wanted to let you know, every since I first saw you I always got the impression of you that you were talking about: that you were somehow outside of reach or someone that I couldn’t really get close to, including sit next to. What you said today surprised me and it really meant a lot to me that you are trying to move away from that and toward something you think you had a long time ago. I can totally relate to where you are coming from and what you are going through (as people often say their impressions of me are very negative and serious at first) but I admire that you came out and said that to all of us.” I told her I was glad I said it too.
Today I think that I recognized one of the many opportunities that I have available to make a change in myself for the better and that I took one small step in the right direction. It came quickly and my heart beat rapidly before, during and after I did it, but I know now that it was the right step to have taken. Like my dad always says, “Whatever you do, the next time it gets easier, good or bad.” Whether it’s sitting down with a stranger, being conscious of how I am being perceived or simply recognizing an imaginary boundary I created for myself, I hope next time I see the choice just as clearly and that I make the right choice again and again.