Who Do You Go To When You’re Supposed to Be the One with the Answers?

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A lot of students come in and out of my office each day, mainly for the free coffee, but quite a few of them have questions for me. Usually these questions relate to finding a professor’s office, other campus resources, who to talk to for academic help (that would be me), or where the nearest lost and found is. I don’t get too many questions that I don’t know the answer to or at least know who else to call on campus that might know the answer. Yesterday was one of those rare occasions.

On Tuesday a student text me (I don’t just give students my cell number, we met when I was a student) and said that she wasn’t having much motivation in class and no longer saw the point of working hard for her grades. She wasn’t sure who to talk to, but she thought of me. We met on Thursday and I was pretty optimistic that I could help her regain her motivation. I couldn’t.

I thought she might be lacking motivation because she was unsure of her career path or post graduation plans. No, she’s confident that she wants to get her degree in Mechanical Engineering and work in production. I thought she might still be upset about breaking up with her  boyfriend. Nope, she’s moved on and made new friends. I thought she might have been frustrated that she couldn’t get an internship even though she has a really good GPA. Not really, she said she didn’t try very hard at the Career Fair. I thought she might be too involved on campus and mentally burnt out. Nope, she cut back on her extra-curricular commitments and isn’t even all that invested in the one organization that she’s apart of.

The best thing I could tell her was to not be so hard on herself if she didn’t have the motivation or energy to study. Sometimes that happens. If she planned to study for four hours one day, but only studied for two then that was okay. That’s two hours more than what she studied this past week. I know, not the best advice, but I tried. I really did. I also encouraged her to calculate her grades to see how well she needs to do during the remainder of the semester to maintain her GPA. Maybe that’ll give her a little more motivation. When she left I could tell by her face that nothing I said was particularly helpful, but she tried to assure me that it was and that she just needed someone to talk to.

I remember feeling like that during my final semester. I was finishing a degree that I had no interest in. I was working two jobs and trying to keep a dying organization alive. I was lonely. My boyfriend was hundreds of miles away in Texas. My close friend (and roommate at the time) and I were no longer on speaking terms. There were many days when I didn’t have the motivation and didn’t understand why I should work hard to finish a degree that I had no intentions of using. Some days I didn’t even want to go to class. I did it though. I finished. How? I’m not sure. The grace of God. I don’t know how I overcame everything that last semester. Honestly, I don’t think I have.

It has taken every ounce of energy to get out of bed everyday this week. I haven’t worked out at all. I don’t really have an appetite, but I stress eat. I’m a week behind on the reading for my MBSR class and ladies book study. I’m having difficulties focusing at work, having meaningful conversations with students and co-workers. I’m listening, but I’m not listening, which is one of my own pet peeves.

I feel like I’m reliving my senior semester all over again. I’m stuck. Who do I go to when I’m supposed to be the one with the answers? My mom just tells me to turn on some music and dance around my apartment. My dad doesn’t tell me anything because we can’t have a conversation long enough for me to tell him these things. My aunt usually suggests that it’s my hormones and that I should get my levels checked; she also prays for me. My boyfriend is going through his own stuff right now. My best friend has been out-of-town at a company plant tour. And I’ve ben praying about it, but I don’t feel like anything has changed.

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