Music: Like Eating glass- Bloc Party
Today, much like any other workday, I spent my morning putting out the typical fires of switching back keys on laptops, answering emails and having conversations with students who were making no progress in self-paced courses. Around lunch time, things changed though, I had one of those experiences that truly leave you thankful that you’re a teacher.
I had a student ask if she could stay during lunch to finish a test that she had started online. I of course said sure and did my best to help her with the questions she had. She worked diligently, finished the exam and proceeded to ask about another assignment that was to be uploaded the next day. I walked her through the process and told her that the assignments for all the other modules were to be uploaded the same way.
She thanked me for my help and then asked me how her sister was doing in one of my other classes. I told her that she was doing well but that anything to spur more productivity would be appreciated. Here’s where the day changed, one of those unforgettable moments, where people lose their roles and simply become humans.
She told me that her and her sister hadn’t lived together for a few years. That her sister gets distracted easily. “She focuses on boys more than school. I wish she could see from my mistakes that it’s not worth it.” She proceeded to explain that her mother and father were divorced.
Her mother had tried to fight her and her sister sided with her, this had put a strain on their relationship. She told me she lived with her boyfriend because of the rift, but she regretted it and felt as though her boyfriend just used her for sex. She said that last spring she had had a miscarriage with him and that it had affected her school work.
She then explained that her father had just recently had a baby with another woman. Apparently there are 3 other siblings, all from different women. She said “I just wish he would focus on us rather than creating more children.”
I told her I didn’t have any quick fixes for such matters, but that there are resources in the community and I can help her find them. I told her that in my life I have had to distances myself from some family members and relationships due to their negative nature. That it hurts, but that being dragged in to more negativity is worse than the distance.
I told her that she can only focus on the next right move and that mistakes are merely another chance to learn from our own experiences.
I also told her that I too have a hard time dealing with my own problems, and that that in no way minimizes her situation, rather that she is more normal than she expects.
Lastly, I told her that I lack the resources to do much, however, that when she’s in my class that I’ll do all that I can to ensure her success. Small successes become large successes over time and that our habits become our lives, focus on what you can control.
She thanked me for listening to her and said that she was appreciative that I’m cool.
I’ve been left sort of in awe for a few reasons. I tell people regularly to endure, but until now realize that I usually only consider life from my point of view and with respect to my set of problems and circumstances. This is an unfair way to assess other.
I still advocate for people to pick up and do the tough tasks that are at hand, however, there has to be more of us listening (myself included) to each other. Up until a year ago I was a pretty awful listener. My goal was always to have something to reply with. As I have made the shift to actually listening I find that not everything one says needs a reply. But that anyone moved to genuinely voice their feelings needs to at the least say their piece, even if just as a verbal catharsis.
Furthermore, I’m saddened and proud all at once that there are young adults, of any gender, that can and do, put such issues aside and make such hard decisions daily and are committed and driven to truly make a go at life despite the odds. (What’s more refreshing than to have a true protagonist?)
While reading today I thought about my debt as I was confronted with the idea of resistance as a motivator in life, a purpose, the reason we get up every morning. As of right now, debt is my resistance. I seem to function better when knowing or creating a purpose to struggle for.
For years I viewed the world from a political perspective–everything is a function of power struggle and since it is, the only difference is who is victorious. Perhaps this has something to do with my functioning as an adult. This young lady has identified her struggle and I hope she annihilates what needs to be in order to prevail.
Life, at times, is so incredibly sad, intense, beautiful, and beyond anything I could every dream up–I’m thankful for that. I’m thankful for these types of moments that pull me out of my own personal stupor and force me to realize that we all have struggles. I recognize that we are all so busy and I ask that you guys do the best you can to be understanding and patient, it’s truly an uphill battle for us all.