5-4-3-2-1 Ready or not, here I come! As a kid (and maybe even still a little now) I always enjoyed playing hide and go seek. I always had the best spots and it always irritated me to no end when the counting had come to a stop and I was still without the perfect place. Sometimes if the person that was "it" was a good friend of yours, you could shout, "Not yet! Count some more!" Most of the time they wouldn't and would spot you immediately, but it was worth a shot.
I have always been the kind of person who plans for the worst and hopes for the best. Especially in Student Affairs, there are constant measures needed to be taken in order to be prepared for any situation. I would like to think my staff and I are trained for everything that could possibility occur, and then you up the door and there are five new variables you never even considered and you have to adjust your idea in order to complete the task.
Last night I sent out a text to a few friends which read: "Finish the sentence: I was never ready for ______________". Immediately I got some humorous responses such as "I was never ready for crocs to become a fashion trend" or "I was never ready for a 15 hour shift without dinner", but then I also starting getting some really personal and amazing professions: "I was never ready for the separation with my closest friends", "I was never ready to move across the country", "I was never ready for my first surgery". It was some of the deepest talks I've had with some of my friends in a while. We are in a world where we should be ready for anything and are set to take on the world full force, but it takes a strong person to admit the world had won in that situation.
I know I was not ready for my first encounter with a resident attempting suicide. Without giving away too much information, medicine and alcohol had been mixed and they planned on drifting away peacefully. Although it happened many years ago, I remember vividly just standing there, shaking uncontrollably, not sure what to do and watching helplessly as the EMTs tried to revive the resident. I think this was the first time in a long time that I would easily say I was not ready emotionally to handle that situation. I was very fortunate to have a returning RA by my side, telling me what I needed to do and I don't know what I would have done if he had not been there. He was the hero of the evening and I'm glad to say we saved the resident with merely seconds to spare. The following day, the hospital had told us that if we had found them an hour later, they would have been dead. I'm very thankful the experience turned out the way that it had, otherwise I'm not sure I would still be the person I am today.
So why am I bringing up these darker days back from the shadows of our hearts? Because sometimes we have to be vulnerable. Sometimes we don't have it all together and sometimes you are standing there, shaking uncontrollably, when things don't go your way. It takes a strong person to admit them. Life spins around and you are the first person it sees and it is your time to be in that situation. These dark days are the days that define who we are, we can either let it consume us or we can learn to be stronger the next time it happens. I know for me, the next suicide attempt I faced had me just handling it on my own and I knew what to do. "I was not ready for what it meant to be my own person until I jumped off that ledge and felt what it was like to fly on my own" (another friend's response). That's the amazing thing about working in student affairs, once you have seen one situation, you are more prepared to handle the next and you are flying on your own. I can easily say you are never fulled ready to take on what is behind that door, but sometimes you have to simply tell yourself, "Ready or not, here I come!"
Question Time: Has there ever been a time when you felt you were not ready to handle a situation?