The Scamp Opens Her Eyes

I have been very negative lately. My life has been a revolving cycle of work, school, research, grade, repeat. Because of that, I let myself get caught up in the drama of my cohort, and really let five horrible women almost drive me from the program. While I am still not sold on staying, I am learning to let what goes on in that room once a week stay there. That room does not represent the real world, and does not represent the people I will be working with, and the students I hope to help.

Today I felt vindicated. I am in the process of completing a basic skills certification for my job. For the last few months I have been attending workshops that range from how to help students read their textbook to how to reduce stress in the classroom. The workshop this morning was entitled: How to Overcome the Institutional Alienation of At-risk African American and Hispanic Students. At first I wasn’t going to go. I get enough of this from my cohort, and I did not think I could sit for two hours and listen to how horrible I am because I am white. I need the hours, and I feel that helping at-risk students regardless of race is important, so I decided I would give it a shot. When I left the house this morning, I decided that I was going to sit in the back of the room and not say anything. I can not afford to make anymore waves in my bubble, and pissing off people where I work is not something that I want to do.

I could not have been more shocked about the workshop I participated in today. While the statistics presented demonstrated that people of color are the most at-risk when they enter college, the discussion that we had was about how to help at-risk students. The only time race was mentioned was when the presenters mentioned that at the conference they went to, the presenter was the number one thing a teacher can do to alienate a student in their classroom is see them as a monolith for their race, and treat them based on the color of their skin. The discussion revolved around barriers that any at-risk student would have entering college, and what the institution can do to help break down these barriers and help promote student success.

It was the discussion that I wish I could have every Tuesday night. The presenters kept saying “What can WE as an institution do to help students?” The room was full of men, women, old, young, humanities teachers, math teachers, and science teachers. There were Asians, African Americans, Hispanics and Latinos, and White people. No one was singled out by their race, and the blame was placed on the institution as a whole, not on the race of the people involved. I left that workshop finally understanding what it meant to grow and learn as a educator, and finally learning what it would be like for me working in the real world. This is how educators behave. This is how open and honest conversation brings about change. When I discussed a bit of what the conversations are like in my class, one of the presenters told me that was a retrograde way of thinking, and that was not how progressive educators worked.

So while the program is still awful, and I am far from being a proud Titan, it feels good to know that I have now been snapped out of the Twilight Zone, and when I make it into the working world as a professional, my ideas about change, and my strategies for helping students are valuable, and have merit. Why it took me so long to figure out, I have no idea, but I am happy that my eyes are open now.

The Scamp Unloads a Burden

I’ve been pretending I’m fine for months, thinking that if I pretended I wasn’t depressed again, it would go away. I said I was fine so many times that I created, and then destroyed a relationship I had no business being in. I said I fine so many times that I eventually was consumed by the word and didn’t know how to say I was unhappy, or that I needed help beyond what anyone I love could objectively give me.

I’m an avid freshly presser. I love reading what people have to say on subjects I am interested in (and one day secretly hope to grace the page). Today I came across a blog that perfectly captured how I feel (You can find the owner of the words that so perfectly capture what I am sure many people struggling with depression feel here: http://blackdogrunner.wordpress.com/)

BDR writes:

When you’re in the clutches of depression, it requires an enormous amount of energy. Many a day I’ve gone to work, said nothing except a couple of ‘fine thank yous’ , and come home utterly exhausted. Which has a knock-on effect on my ability to do it all over again the next day.

But there’s another problem – a more insidious problem – with lying. Every time you tell someone you are ‘fine’ – when you’re not – you buy into the belief that it’s not acceptable to be depressed. In other words, the act of concealing your true mood, sends a subconscious message that it needs concealing, that it’s something to be ashamed of.

I’m exhausted. I spent so much time anxiously worried about the state of my relationship, or how busy I was, or how behind I fell with school work, that I could literally crawl in bed and sleep for days. In fact, I would like nothing more than to pull the covers over my head and not resurface until all of these feelings have passed.

I saw a therapist on campus…..I didn’t like her (I have since made a new appointment with a different person in hopes of finding a better fit).

I have three jobs and no insurance, so I didn’t look for an affordable option.

I have phoned it in at work and school, and not many people would have ever known something was wrong until last week when I lost control of my tear ducts and cried in oddest of places.

My self-worth at this moment is severely lacking. It is the one thing that I need to work on figuring out. It is one of the reasons I jumped into a relationship, it is one of the reasons I hide behind school, and it is one of the things I am constantly reminded of, but am somehow unable to see.

Today was my lucky day in class though. I got two cards from two of my favorite cohort members. One was a great note thanking me for being me, and listing qualities that she enjoyed about me. She has been doing this every week for the different members of our group, and mine just so happened to come at a time when I needed a reminder to look at all the good about myself.

The second card came from a woman that I love. he is one of the bravest, warmest, and inspired people I have ever met. She has a passion for people that is beyond anything I can hope to have, and she constantly reminds me what it means to fully invest in your dreams. She was a strong comforting shoulder for me last week, and the card she gave me tonight will be one I keep close for a good long while.

It says:

It isn’t always easy to make changes, but there’s no better advice than this: just do your best. Make sure you stay strong enough to move ahead, because there are some wonderful rewards waiting for you.

It won’t all make sense right away, but I promise you; over the course of time, answers will come, decisions will prove to be the right ones, and the path will be easier to see. Here are some things you can do that will help see you through….

You can have hope. Because it works wonders for those who have it. You can be optimistic. Because people who expect things to turn out for the best often set the stage to receive a beautiful result. You can put things into perspective. Because some things are important and others are definitely not.

You can remember that beyond the clouds, the sun is still shining. You can meet each challenge and give it all you’ve got.

You can count your blessings. You can be inspired to climb your ladders and have some nice long conversations with your wishing stars. You can be strong and patient. You can be gentle and wise.

And you can believe in happy endings. Because you are the author if the story of your life.

                                                                                                Douglas Pagels

I’m going to look to the strong and patient, gentle and wise parts to get me through.

As per my usual, I have been way too emotionally open and honest about being a hot mess. This blog was supposed to be my adventures in Scotland, and then my adventures in the doctoral program. It has become my outlet for all of the thoughts and feelings that I can’t seem to voice in my everyday life. I don’t hide behind the anonymity that the blogosphere offers since I post the link to my Facebook, and I am sure one day I will cringe about all of the things I have put out into the world, but right now, in this moment, I feel a little bit better about getting this off my chest.