It’s been one heck of a summer. I feel like I’ve really grown as a person, whether it growing comfortable with my faults and recognizing insecurities as insecurities, or whether it being more confident in who I want to be. As September rolls in and new students start planning their move-ins or their commuting schedules, I find myself comparing freshman me to now; freshman me being not too confident, a little unsure, and a whole lot of nervous. One thing though that helped me get on the right foot was Orientation, which I did with University College. And particularly, my orientation leaders who helped me stumble out of my shell and transition to a new chapter in my life. Fast forward a couple years, and I’m now a frosh head leader for this upcoming University College Orientation, but one feeling from the past still holds strong.
Once again, I’m super nervous – though the reason has changed. I’ve got the pre-Orientation leader jitters.
It’s a kind of surreal feeling being a leader, finding yourself in the position of the first people you idolized, looked up to, or accepted their word as canon. It definitely is a position of power; you can see how your influence will take root in your frosh, what they’ll learn from your experiences and how they’ll initially see university life after the week. First impressions are an important thing, and as a leader, you’re making over 50 new impressions this week.
But with this surrealism comes the stark reality that everything is not dreamlike; what you say and how you say it can be the deciding factor in a student’s feelings about university. And heck, that is kind of scary.
As head leader, I’ve taken on more responsibility but my role more or less remains the same: help the students transition to university with the tools and tips to succeed academically and enjoy post-secondary school socially. Even though I’ve already been a leader once, I still have a tornado in my stomach.
I’m nervous that I won’t be able to connect with first-year students. I’m nervous that they won’t see me as someone they can count. Nervous that they won’t have the great experience I had in my first year and will have trouble adjusting to (arguably) one of the best chapters of their lives. And it is with these nerves and insecurities that I know will help shape how I lead these new students. Will I be enough? Will I be able to break through their shells, or, at the very least, coax them out? What if they don’t like me?
Honestly, being an Orientation leader is a lot like going on a series of first dates. You’re constantly catching yourself and thinking about what you say and how you say it. You want the other person to have a good time. You want to make them feel comfortable.
What I can recommend is to be genuine, make sure what you do or say is helping the students out, and at the end of the day, remember that at the end of the day, you’re going to be someone’s first ever friend in a strange new big pond. Don’t let there be feelings of sink or swim, make it swim or float – and floating happens with your help.
What Orientation are you going to frosh lead for? Let me know in the comments!