OrientationThoughts, Feelings

Don’t Forget the Pause Button: Why You Should Take the Time to Enjoy Orientation Week

Pausing in 3… 2… 1…

Let’s just get this out of the way up front: Orientation Week—it starts in 3 days.

Now, don’t you feel better for saying it out loud?
(Probably not.)

The reason for that is that this is the big one; for probably 99% of Student Affairs professionals, O-Week is the biggest piece of programming your department offers. Some of us have been working on it literally all year; others started with a vengeance in May. For those that are only mildly affected by it (are there such roles?), I guarantee come August you feel the tone and direction of your role shift towards all things orientation and transition. Which is a good thing!

Ryerson sees approximately 9,000 incoming first-year students every September. That’s ~24% of our total student body. Not to mention the number of returning students that will go through a renaissance of transition, now that they’re in a new year, new classes, a new major, etc. The last week of August turns into the first week of September, and quickly evolves into the first week of school, when campus is alive and vibrant and stirring in ways that it probably won’t be for another full year—it’s a magical time!

…It’s a magical time with thousands, literally thousands, of hours of people-power and planning and strategizing and fretting and phone calls and contracts and programming and logistics and—well, it takes a lot, from a lot of people. But that’s our job, right? And we love doing it.

Of course we do! But… Well, have you ever found yourself in this position:

You: *speed-walking down the halls.*

Colleague: “Say, you, I haven’t seen you in a long while. How are you?”

You: “Oh, you know—busy. Very, very busy.”

Colleague: “Me too! So busy, all the time. In fact, let us stop this unproductive chatter and step back to our busy!”

You: “Let’s, shall we!” (Is what you would say if you weren’t already half way down the hall, back to your desk to make phone calls, answer those emails, organize the half-tonne stack of papers that you don’t even remember printing…)

The point I’m getting at is busy is our default, or at least it feels that way. And this time of year, it feels extra true because—well, it is! Orientation Week is 3 days away! It’s natural for someone to be busy when the programming event they’ve been planning for one, four, twelve months is almost here.

But let’s just take a moment and hit pause. Here, hit it with me. I promise it won’t hurt, and we’ll unpause in just a moment:

Take a moment, press the button... Pause.

There, isn’t that nice?

We need to hit the pause button daily because that busy feeling is a monster—especially with a large-scale project like Orientation Week—a monster that will chew us up and spit us out soggy, broken, and smelling faintly of vomit.

And if you don’t take a moment to pause—just a single moment—to stop… to breathe… to look around at the events happening because you and all our colleagues made them happen… you’re going to miss the culmination of the work you’ve put in all year.

But even more importantly, if you don’t carry the pause button around in your pocket while you manage logistics, you’re going to miss the real magic. You’ll miss the smiling faces that are experiencing these events; these people that are finding one of the greatest and most anxiety-ridden transitions of their life made smooth and seamless with a wealth of support, laughter, and joy.

This is a huge moment of transition for them, each and every single one. Many of the people that step onto campus in August bring with them zero experience in this area of transition; they have no previous first-hand experience to draw on to make this moment any easier. We put in all this work behind the scenes so that incoming students can step onto campus and feel supported, so they are supported, so they can transition into their new role as a post-secondary student and get down to the business of transforming the world.

When their energy and our support collides—that’s magic. We start to see the glimmer of passion, drive, and spirit that is going to shape our world, and I, for one, don’t want you to miss it.

So in four days, when Orientation Week starts, remember the pause button. Draw it on your staff shirt. Take a few moments. Not all at once, spread them out throughout the day—but do so every day. Remember to experience the moments you’ve worked so hard to create, and witness the joy it brings to the people you’ve worked so hard for.

Okay, in 3… 2… 1…

The Busy Monster isn't so scary now, taking a moment in a beautiful valley, smelling the flowers.

  • Rebecca Dirnfeld

    Great piece, Lucas. Totally have been experiencing this all week. Last night I sat outside on my patio and just enjoyed the end-of-summer warmth and reflected on the past week. It’s been hectic but exciting and full of fun. I am looking forward to the long weekend though. Can’t believe another school year is upon us!

  • Caroline Konrad

    A helpful reminder to us all to put the ‘Pause’ button into the calendar this time next year if not already done so!