Saturday, August 14, 2010

Addressing the issues

An anonymous commenter has been very critical of some of my recent decisions. In many ways, I can see his/her points. Am I niave? You bet. Do I have a great deal of life experience? That depends on what sort of life experience you're thinking of. But the thing that makes me a little angry is when someone suggests that I haven't taken care of myself, and that I wouldn't be a good RA, because I've taken advice from blog readers.

Here's what I would say to that. I have been a mother to children since I was old enough to know what the word meant. While I *know* I don't have the social maturity or professional skills to solve my resident's problems, I am good at admitting when I'm over my head and asking for help from others. I wouldn't even be allowed to do much in an emergency situation, besides contact the appropriate resources. We're only allowed, as RAs, to intervene in so much as we secure a situation and call the resident life director or emergency services. I also know what it means to be alone and homesick. That, from what I understand, is a huge part of the first quarter RA duty - to make my residents feel at home and deal with life skills that you deal with when you leave (laundry, time management, etc.,.).

I am growing. I'm not perfect. But I know that I can handle a lot more than some people and what I can't handle I'm quick to admit I can't handle. Isn't that better than pretending to have all the answers? While people suggested I take an RA position, no one got the job for me or held my hand while I did it. I've spent the last six years of my life living with very little outside assistance, well below the poverty level, trying to overcome my past. How I handle things may not be the same as how you would handle something and I know I'm not where most 26 year olds are professionally or emotionally. Like you said, some of that isn't my fault given that my upbringing was not meant to prepare me for independence or adulthood. But here I am doing what I'm doing - getting my education and securing a small livelihood for myself.

I don't mind that you commented and criticized. I do mind the assumptions and accusations. I've made mistakes and I'm growing from them but I don't have the security net most people have and I'm doing the best I can with the tools I have.
Thanks for reading and writing.


  1. Ruth, one of my pals was an RA in college, and I can guarantee that you are more qualified, not to mention more mature, than she was. As long as you are compassionate and sensible, you'll be fine.

  2. Well put, Ruth! I think you will make a phenomenal RA! :-)

  3. You're going to be a VERY good RA, Ruth, and for all the reasons you so eloquently stated. Ignore the naysayer; someone who has enough time on his/her hands to comment about the blog of someone he/she clearly does not like or agree with, is seeking attention. That individual does not deserve it.

    You're doing great. Never doubt that.

  4. Well said, Ruth. I think the biggest thing to watch out for as an RA, for the record, is the potential for catty politics amongst your fellow RAs. It can be a cliquey bunch, and if you displease certain people they might find passive aggressive ways to relay problems into your court. But just keep your eyes open - I'm sure you can spot the types who might cause trouble and make sure they don't find a reason to pick a fight with you.

  5. MJB here.

    Listen, sweet girly, you just keep on keepin' on and come on over to the place I and others hang out (you know where) if you need some extra support. We are there for you, bebe!

    Peace and joy!

  6. I'm so pleased for you, Ruth, and I'm sure you will do well.

    Take care,


  7. I think that being an RA will help you build a lot of confidence in yourself. You have good judgment (despite anon's criticisms), you just have to learn to trust that judgment. Will you make mistakes? Probably. We all tend to.

    I have mentioned before that I come from a similar background. I was essentially sequestered from birth and taught nothing about how to gain and maintain friendships. I've sure made a few mistakes along the journey through adulthood. That is what gives me my compassion for others and it's part of the reason I am capable of maintaining good friendships now. I was very immature socially even as a 26 year old. Guess what, I learned.

    Most of an RA's job is to listen to others. You can pick up the skills on what resources to have people utilize, basic first aid and emergency care. I think it's funny that no one questions that part. However, social skills are just like any other skill. You can learn them. I recommend the book by Temple Grandin "The Unwritten Rules of Social Conduct." It's written for people with autism, but I learned lot about basic socializing from it. Also, if you search out websites for people with social skills deficits (i.e. autism spectrum disorders, some learning disabilities) you will find a wealth of information about being social and picking up on cues etc. It's not hard.

    I think you've got a lot of your bases covered. The rest you can learn.

    Frankly, a lot of the people who are considered normal in terms of social skills are not the best examples anyway. For example, someone who comes onto a blog and blathers on and on and on about how you can't do what you put your mind too because you're immature. :oP That's someone who has a few things to learn about life. You can't sit around waiting until you're ready for something. You get ready by getting out there and attempting new things. Failures don't make us bad, they help us grow.

  8. Ruth, I think you will make an excellent RA. You know your own strengths and limitations, which is more than could be said of a lot of people. Honestly, I would be thrilled to have you as an RA. You have dealt with some nasty situations in a very competent manner; you have empathy, compassion, and common sense. What more could be expected of an RA? Sure, you've got your issues; everybody has issues. The really important thing is not the presence of the issues, but how one handles them. I think you've handled them very well. Just from the fact that you've left a controlling cult and pulled yourself up by your own bootstraps to achieve your goals indicates that you're a fabulous role model and advisor for anyone. Go you!

  9. I'm seriously concerned as to why so many of you are pushing Ruth into accepting yet another job/circumstance in which she will fail.
    Are you passive-agressively mocking her?
    Ruth, stop listening to people who are setting you up to fail. It's a sick game for them, and not one bit healthy for you.

  10. Anonymous smells like a troll. Assuming she will fail is pretentious and shows a complete lack of knowledge about the subject. Ruth will be a better RA than any of the RA's that I have had contact with.

  11. This comment has been removed by the author.

  12. Anonymous@7:47, believe me, that's the last thing I'd do. I was one of the first to tell her not to take the nanny job with no pay. So, she doesn't always listen to commentators. To say that Ruth can't handle an RA job because she was brought up ultra sheltered but has now been on her own for SIX years is unfounded. I think that you might be a Ruth detractor, possibly a relative still trying to hurt her.

  13. Ruth,

    I got my masters in counseling psych with a focus on student personnel. I worked for eight years on a campus while I was in grad school and I spent many years helping residence life hire RA's and RD's.

    You have all the skills to be an RA. Your judgment is sound. The simple act of walking away from your life and family for a giant unknown future proves you know when things are not right and you know how to get what you want.

    Don't let people with an agenda scare you off. I think your troll has probably never been to college, which is why s/he/it is making the job sound like secretary of state position.

    It's not. It's mainly about roommates that hate each other, boyfriends that stay too long, guys who stay the night and misc girls who walk in on said guys using their floor bathroom. It's about music and homesickness and school problems.

    I doubt troll anon has lived in a dorm. The person obviously has an agenda and wants to undermine your faith in yourself. The only way we learn in life is by doing and yes, failing. I was 28 when I got my real job. I moved away to a huge city where I knew one person who wasn't speaking to me. The night before two of my most important jobs, I called my best friend and cried about not being good enough for the job.

    Uncertainty and doubt only happen when you step off your ledge and take a risk. Without taking risks, you'll live a very boring life.

    I would hire you as an RA. You have an unusual background that will speak to many people. You are much older and calmer than most RA's. You genuinely care about people in your care, which will take you far as an RA.

    Sure, there will be problems that drive you crazy. But people who don't look at situations from many different aspects and who don't seek input, tend to be bad workers in general. I don't see this blog as telling you what to do, but rather offering up suggestions based on our experiences. You'd be silly not to seek input from those who spent in similar situations.

    Most of us have a circle of friends that we get advice from. You have a blog. And some bitter troll out in troll-land apparently has nothing but bitterness in their soul.

    Go Ruth! I believe in you.

  14. Anon @ 7:47, I'e got the funny feeling you would be the anonymous poster she's talking about. People don't know how they can do ANYTHING until they try. You wanna talk passive agressive? Post your name, jerk.

    Ruth, there will always be people who think others will fail and want you to be as miserable as they are. Screw 'em. You gave your all to the nanny job, and yeah you got hammered. But the result? Wisdom for you, and I bet those boys will remember how special you were to them. Life does not come wth a manual, you learn as you go. You will learn to be an RA. Will you be the best? Time will tell. You have the support of tons of people, remember that. The detractors are unfortunate people that will bring you down IF you let them. Don't let 'em.

    Ivy26 (at least *I* put a damn name)

  15. This comment has been removed by the author.

  16. Ivy,

    Thank you for labeling it for me. Passive aggressive is exactly what I was thinking when I read those posts. The anon troll is just as destructive as Darth Pater, but this one is cloaked in concern about Ruth's decision making while totally bitch-slapping her with her posts.

    And you are right about life not having a manual. Cause I sure as hell didn't get one. Most of us fumble our way through life and come out the other side better for it. You never trip if you don't take a step.

    Ruth may decide she hates being an RA. Or that she can't stand dorm life any longer. Or maybe she'll decide she wants to be a director or residence life. But she'll never know until she tries it.

    I think Ruth knows who Passive-aggressive Troll is. This person is so fake in their concern. Ruth, let me know if you'd like me to teach you have to read IP logs and where to trace IP addresses from. It might be fun to know what post belongs to what troll.

    I have to admit, these well written troll posts make me long for the days of crazy darth rants.

  17. That's a Darth Daddy post. The other troll knew what an RA was and could define the position, unlike Anon 7:47 who just believes women (and possibly a sibling that brought out DD) can survive in this cruel world without the protection of a man.

    All we do here is share our experiences and give advice if we've been in a similar situation. Ruth can take or leave any advice she reads here or hears otherwise. She has a MIND OF HER OWN.

    The only passive-aggressive attitudes I see on this blog come from the detractors. Ruth didn't "hide" in the bedroom; she was told to go there during that situation and she only left when "Harris" (whom I hope posted above...if so, your grammar was incorrect :p ) came to get her out of the house. You are a wonderful guy. Make no mistakes on this blog, since DD is apparently showing it to everyone he knows.

    Ruth, good luck, be careful and DD: *middle finger* She will succeed, and planting a seed of failure won't work now; she's been out of your clutches for 6 years. If this was me in therapy, this goes RIGHT to the therapist to work out. Even if it's not Darth, take these trigger posts (and I'm sure that's what they're meant to be) to work on to deal with any fear issue. My therapist (a PhD., not a quack) gave all sorts of meditation/deep breathing exercises to work on.

    Your school should have a workout gym. Try to find a beginning yoga or stretch class. With student ID, they're generally free, but with the budget cuts, who knows? Someone may even teach one in your own dorm in the gym room. Look into deep breathing/relaxation workouts. I've DVR'ed everything from simple stretches to fullout yoga and they are lifesavers for me.

    Don't let the people who have been out of society for years get you down. As my old wall poster in 7th grade with a kitten precariously hanging from a branch said: "Hang in there, baby!"

    I hope Ruth allows this: FUCK YOU to anyone who blatantly declares failure. You are the abusers; I know because I had to deal with that for YEARS. The good news is they're JEALOUS of your success; you are probably smarter than these detractors and that scares them. My parents loved to show me off, but when the chips were down, refused to let me go to college (I was still a minor) and set up for failure in the real world. But I made plans and had a job lined up the week I graduated from HS and go my luggage that day.

  18. Hi Ruth,

    I've read your whole blog but this is the first time I've commented. I can't say it any better than the others before me, but I think you will be a fantastic RA. And aside from that, I wanted to tell you how much I admire you for getting out of your situation at home and putting yourself through school. I don't think I would have had the strength or courage.

    You are seriously a woman to admire. I am a married, 41 year old mother of one, and you are much braver than I am. I look forward to new posts from you, and I'm cheering you on and praying for you.

    Thanks for sharing your journey with us.

  19. Every time you acknowledge the losers, Ruth, you fatten up their resolve to harass you.

    You have oceans of positive support here but you single out the one rain drop of doubt to prove yourself to.

    I dont give a shit what the trolls say, Ruth. You dont have to prove yourself to anyone here.
    Its your blog.
    You are in control.
    They are just faceless morons on the interwebz who seem to glory in tearing you down.

    Fuck 'em.

    You have come too far to be distracted by the small minded.

    Go. Be happy. Live well.

    Stop letting these boils on the butts of humanity have your attention.

    I command you. :D


  20. What baffles me completely is that this detractor (or one of them, anyway) comes right out and ADMITS to staying anonymous because she is afraid that if she doesn't, people will come to her blog and "leave mean comments." But it's okay if she does it. Wow.

  21. Ruth,
    Most RA's are barely 20 and have less life experience than do you. They tend to be more "wordly" from a fundamentalist point of view, but even mainstream parents are very protective of teen daughters. Dorm life is supposed to be filled with missteps and drama in a semi-independent environment. The whole idea is that part of the learning process is this partial transition from protected child to independent adult.

    This job as RA will teach you things that the Nannying job could not. As a Nanny, you cared for small children and answered to the parent/authority. This will be different. Your role will be less clear much of the time.I think the fact that you are a bit older and have a sense of being a bit of an outsider will serve you well. You must stand apart from the other students in your dorm in order to have some measure of influence. The most important thing to do is keep that little bit of arms length.

    Young people are just "trying on" their adult roles and adjusting them to fit. When you are called in to listen or to smooth a drama, remember that and it will help.

    There will be more drama in this coming year. Being a grown up is about learning to deal with crisis, sort out what is important and make priorities. Not all problems need to be solved.

    Good luck , Ruth. I look forward to the day that your anonymity is no longer important to your safety.

  22. You're on the right path. You'll get where you're going. Don't let the bastards grind you down.

  23. Although I was never an RA, I lived in dorms for 2 years (and loved every second of it). Ruth - I believe you will struggle a bit with your role but it willy only make you stronger. I only say you might struggle because it's a tricky position to be in: you want to be their friend, for the most part they want to be your friends, but you need to maintain some sort of authority, however lax it may be at some times. As a resident we always responded and respected the RAs who used their authority in a gentle way, as opposed to those RAs who thought they were Ruler And Commander. The friendly RAs who treated us as adults always got a much better response. In my experience the main rules we broke every single weekend were "no alcohol in the hallways" and "quiet hours". Sure there were occasional emergencies but it sounds like you will have resources in place to deal with them. Like I said before, the RAs who screamed at us to get out of the hallways got very litte response. Those who we already had a relationship with and who just asked us and "reminded" us of the rules got a much better response.

    I guess what I'm trying to say is that you know you are naive and you know you sometimes have difficulty making friends. It will be a good life lesson to find your way through that middle zone of being an RA. Stay calm, stay patient and enjoy it!


  24. Ruth, it's going to be a wonderful year, with fantastic possibilities, and all the ups and downs of normalcy. Here's to the the rise and gradual fall of a daily victory, as Dar Williams sang- you will be as great as you want to be.

    Good things to you, sweet girl. I only wish I would have had you as an RA, instead of the RA my freshman year who made it a goal to sleep with all the male residents... or the RA my junior year who ignored the partying of students who were making it impossible for other residents to live there... or the RA who simply didn't exist at all my sophomore year (oh yeah- he was smoking weed in the suite across the hall). You'll be better than fine.

  25. I think that Anon 7:47 and the commenter that Ruth references in her post are two different people. The first commenter wanted to see Ruth succeed and rejoiced in some of what is going on in Ruth's life. Anon 7:47 is assuming that Ruth will fail. And you know the old saw about making assumptions...

    The truth is: we want to see you succeed, Ruth. That may mean coming up against some rough situations, and some situations where you won't know what to do. As long as you take advantage of all the resources available to you, you will do well. Don't go it alone. The fundamentalist mindset is to be separate, to be cocooned in a little bubble, being stubbornly and proudly independent, even when help is offered. To some extent, that's how you acted in the situation with the nannying job. A lot of good advice was offered, and you took some of it, but there was more help out there that you could have used.

    Take what you learned from that situation, and apply it to this one. Reach out when you need help or are in over your head.

    No one knows the future, not even Anon 7:47. You could wildly succeed here, Ruth. You could fail. You're not going to know unless you try.

  26. I belives Ruth's age will be a benefit to her in the RA position. The "kids" are more likely to take her seriously because she is older.
    Just my two-cents.

  27. I want to hear more about the forced courtship story that you were writing about before all this current drama started.

    Sometimes the best answer to criticism is to ignore it...not to get caught up in arguing with someone who has already proven themselves unreasonable in the first place.

  28. Ruth, I'm yet another who believes that you will be a good RA. I would suggest (whether you're required to do so or not) that you either keep a list of numbers next to your room phone or save on your cell phone (or both) that includes campus security, your dorm's head RA (as well as those for neighboring dorms), the local police department and hospital, and your favorite pizza delivery place (or whatever type you prefer). Hopefully, you'll only need the last one on a regular basis -- but, if you're in your room (or outside) and there's an emergency, it's much easier to deal with when you have that information on hand rather than having to search for it.

    Also, I know another commenter suggested taking up a yoga class -- if you want something more "active" for stress relief, see if you can join something related to martial arts (especially if there's not an emphasis on the spiritual aspect as much as the physical benefits). It can be a good way to learn how to assert yourself more boldly and take care of yourself or others. :)

    As far as the trolls...honey, ignore them.

  29. good luck and only good wishes i send your way :D

    to tuck in the back of your mind, another job option is assistant to the elderly.
    Many are live in options and there's always a chance you will be connected to some old wise lady that can offer a lot of "motherly" wisdom you never had

  30. I was distracted by the detractors (hee!) above, and I forgot to say...I think you'll make a great RA, Ruth! Good luck! :o)

  31. Ruth, I think you would be perfect for a job in elder care. You have patience, kindness, and I know you're compassionate. Our elderly population is so often treated poorly, and it's an area where you could really shine. You could start training as a CNA, and they will pay you as you learn. I think it was a brilliant suggestion to you to consider senior care as an option. I hope you'll consider it.

  32. Ruth,

    I was in ATIA for 12 years, and I'm past 30 now, but I've been able to spend the last two years as a "house mom" to girls in a college town. I always felt like I had missed out on the college experience, and I can safely say that God gave it back to me through this. I've had a blast! I've learned about social interaction, makeup, drama, boyfriends, you name it.

    You may not always feel like you fit in with the younger crowd, but they respond to genuine care, just like anyone else. (And pizza. I've bribed with pizza.) Anyhow, I've made great friends, many quite a bit younger than me, but genuine.

    I think you will do great. I really do. Enjoy a new and growing experience because you will probably be really good at it, using all the caretaker/responsibility skills you have from growing up in the type of "world" that we did.

    I'm anonymous, too, but not a nasty troll. :)

  33. "You can't sit around waiting until you're ready for something. You get ready by getting out there and attempting new things. Failures don't make us bad, they help us grow.

    Love this!

  34. I think you'll make a fabulous RA. Hang in there Ruth!

  35. Ooo, what M said! NEVER underestimate the power of pizza when it comes to dealing with college students.

    And Anon@7:47? You're a jerk. My college dorm experience would have been dramatically better had my RA possessed even a fraction of the listening skills and sympathy that Ruth has. So if by some chance you AREN'T with Team Darth Pater, please take your negativity elsewhere since you obviously don't like this blog. If you ARE with Team DP, then you aren't just a jerk, you're a misogynistic asshat.

  36. How about if none of us assume anything about each other? How about that for a deal? I did not grow up under the circumstances you did, but certainly grew up under the influence of extremely dysfunctional, sometimes delusional people (won't get into the circumstances), hyper-religious, legalistic type household. It's taken the length of most of my marrige (27+ years plus) to gain a better understanding of myself. I think we all learn from life's lessons. That is an inevitable fact no matter how sweet or sour each of our respective childhood's were.

    Ignore what you don't like and take to heart those things that resonate with you. Who cares what someone else thinks because it's their reality, not yours. You can even ignore what I say; we are all still learning.

    Good luck and best wishes as the school year starts. :)

  37. If the RAs in my day are any indication you are well above average! One caused an 11 story dorm to be evacuated by breaking the rules she was meant to enforce and lighting a candle too close to her curtains......... There are people at every parade who make it their special mission to rain on it--just ignore the ones you can't stand and don't rise to their bate-they'll just come back for more! You are doing a great job at picking up the pieces of your life!

  38. I think Donna at 11:18 gave the best advice yet.

    I would love to hear the rest of your courtship-that-wasn't story.

  39. I think you'll make a great RA, Ruth. Don't assume that just because your background is different from the typical college student, that the typical college student is more wordly than you are. I went to college with people who, in their junior year, still didn't know what income taxes were. A so-called ordinary background doesn't necessarily equal mature or worldly.

    I think your age will be a great advantage. I didn't start college until I was 22, and most of my friends were 18-19 years old. They looked at me as a big sister in some respects. I think your age will make you a better RA - you'll automatically get some respect.

    I think all you need is compassion and the willingness to ask for help if you don't know what to do. You've already displayed that you have those qualities.

    And if it doesn't work out, so what? I worked at a fairly decent job in college but had a verbally abusive boss. It was terrible, but I learned a lot about myself and what I can (and can't handle.) Eventually you reach the point where you can laugh at those things.

    Keep doing what you're doing and be proud that you got a position that is very difficult to get. From what I've heard, serving as an RA in college looks very good to future employers. It shows that you can take a leadership role and take on responsibility.

    Go for it!

  40. Anon @ 12:27. if you so want to hear her story, then why not try reading the archives?? i bet she's written about it before & i doubt she wants to repeat it!

  41. Uhhh...His Ruthie, I've read all the archives. The story has not been finished yet.

  42. @HisRuthie...

    Actually she was in the middle of telling us the story for the first time and broke off due to current events -- that is what you'd find in the archives if you wished to check :) Anon@12:27 is merely asking for the "to be continued" portion of the story.

  43. I don't see why the commenter thinks they need to speak up for the college. I'm sure wherever Ruth is attending has hired literally thousands of RAs throughout the years. I'm sure they're capable of making their own assessments about whether or not Ruth is qualified and apparently they think so. :P

    Don't sweat it Ruth. Tell us about meeting the parents pretty please!?!? :D

  44. I've just started reading your blog, and I have to say that you have amazing tolerance and understanding. As well as grace and a good deal of class. Stay strong, I'm glad there are people like you in this world.

  45. I wish the snarky commentators who have some sort of insatiable need to shut down other posters because their comments are supposedly stupid, or shouldn't be asked - period- would just shut up! I personally could care less about the drama with the "Anonymous" poster who supposedly has her own blog and doesn't want people leaving "nasty comments" on her blog, yada, yada, yada. Who really gives a rat's behind? If the Anonymous poster wants to have her say and Ruth allows it, then who cares. Read it and move on!! The world is still spinning in my neck of the woods and the sun continues to come out every day, so quit acting like Ruth is some sort of fragile cookie who will crumble at the first sign of adversity. If she was so delicate and fragile, she wouldn't have escaped her gulag.

    Good Lord, seek some counseling some of you control freaks! I simply enjoy reading Ruth's writing in her blog. Save your snarky remarks for someone who no one.

  46. Thank you, Captain Obvious.

    Here's your rock.

  47. @Snarks R Us

    You say that, yet here you are whining yourself. Save your snarky remarks for someone who no one.

    - Lilia


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.