What Students Really Need to Hear

Thoughts of an ECE/Education Major…

AFFECTIVE LIVING

It’s 4 a.m.  I’ve struggled for the last hour to go to sleep.  But, I can’t.  Yet again, I am tossing and turning, unable to shut down my brain.  Why?  Because I am stressed about my students.  Really stressed.  I’m so stressed that I can only think to write down what I really want to say — the real truth I’ve been needing to say — and vow to myself that I will let my students hear what I really think tomorrow.

This is what students really need to hear:

First, you need to know right now that I care about you. In fact, I care about you more than you may care about yourself.  And I care not just about your grades or your test scores, but about you as a person. And, because I care, I need to be honest with you. Do I have permission to be…

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It’s okay to show weakness

Sometimes, I get so set in being the “strong” one, that I forget its okay to be weak. I have a hard time showing weakness around others, but it gets to the point sometimes where I break down. I have a panic attack for a good 10 minutes, and then I’m ready to move on. Fake it for another day. I’m good at faking it to get by. I did it for a number of years in high school, so whenever I need to do it now, it comes automatically. I don’t even recognize “bad days” anymore. Being sad is a fleeting feeling. It lasts for a moment, and then its on to doing something else. 

In some cases its a good thing. It helps me keep my head on straight at work and lets me work well under pressure. 

The thing about sadness though is that it builds. Sadness is not a fleeting feeling. It hides in the darkest parts of yourself, until it runs out of places to hide. Then it rears its ugly head, and there is nothing you can do to stop it. 

There is a balance between strength and weakness. It is a fine line that we walk from day to day, sometimes its so thin that strength and weakness become one in the same. It is a war we fight within our selves throughout our entire lives. In an instant, we can go from having the times of our lives, to feeling like the world is at its end. 

It happened last night. One minute I was having a blast with friends, and the next I just couldn’t keep it together. I ran off into a bathroom, curled up on the floor and cried my eyes out – PS. crying during allergy season is the worst! 

And of course it was over a stupid boy. I hate crying over boys. I’m quite frankly very done with it. With them as a species in general as well.

For the first time since Nick ended things, I had time to think on everything. I found some of his stuff under my bed, but I threw a blanket over it and moved on. Then Blake came up for the usual Friday night, and I got to be the wonderful 3rd wheel I’ve come accustomed to being. We went to a movie at a theater, then were just staying in for the night and watching more movies. This overwhelming feeling of missing Nick just kind of washed over me. It just felt like he was supposed to be there, and he wasn’t. I didn’t want to look like an idiot whining over a break-up of a relationship that was never really a relationship, so I sucked it up and made it through the night. 

Then Saturday night, a few friends came in to town. One has a habit of hitting on me frequently. We kissed once and he’s been hooked since. So he tried, as usual; being an officially single man only making him put in all the more effort. For the first time ever, I couldn’t handle being hit on. All I wanted to do was run. (Odd, because the weekend after the breakup I was totally fine hooking up with my friend that was in town… oops. But I think that was more out of anger than anything else.) To make things worse, of the two guys that hit on me that night, both of them didn’t seem all that upset with me not flirting back. They moved right on to the next girl and both of them ended up kissing and/or going home with other girls. I hated that I was back to being treated like an object, a pawn in the game of sex. On top of that, one of our visiting friends wouldn’t stop asking if I was okay even after I said I was fine and didn’t feel like talking. Then my roommate kept asking if I was okay, if I wanted to just go home. 

I didn’t want to go home. I was determined to go out and have a normal college night. I got a little nasty and snapped at her, I’ve never snapped at her before. I didn’t like it.

Then as we were walking someplace else, one of the guys that had hit on me and I had witnessed making out with another girl decided to try and hit on me again. Then he brought up Nick. And then I lost it. I made it in to the sushi place just fine, but then people kept asking if I was okay, and I couldn’t keep up the charade. 

The fact was, I was not okay. I was not okay at all. 24 hours, 10 episodes of FRIENDS and a quart of ice cream later I still don’t think I am. I get so focused on all other things that I tend to forget that sometimes, I’m not okay. Plowing through life and filling up your schedule so you don’t have to face the bad stuff isn’t a solution. Saying “I’m fine” does nothing. It plays in to all of the lies you tell yourself to make it through the day. You’re allowed to say, “I’m not fine, but I don’t want to talk about it; I promise I will be okay though.” Because you will be okay. You’ve gotten through ever single day of your life up until right now, and you’ll continue to do it for as long as this universe will allow you to live. You don’t always need to be “fine”. What you do need is the will to keep working and moving forward. Remember that you’re not alone in your pain, everyone suffers; some are just better at covering it up than others.