Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Existential Crisis 101

The student in front of me had two big problems: how to survive this semester and what to do with the whole rest of her life. I was able to help with the first problem but the second still needs work.  

Yes: we've reached that time in the semester when everyone seems to be suffering severe existential crises. I keep having students tell me they don't know why they're here, with here meaning in this class, in college, away from their family during rough times, or stuck in deep holes they've dug for themselves. I never took a class on how to deal with distraught students, but I know how to listen, when to offer the Kleenex box, and when to call the Counseling Center for an immediate intervention.

I worry more about the students who don't know they need help, or who know they need help but can't take the first step toward getting it. What do you do with a failing student who insists that everything is just peachy-keen and who resists my every attempt to alert him to impending doom? I confess that I may have raised my voice. Just a little. Okay, more than a little. I'm not proud of myself, but the situation called for something extreme, and if cursing isn't an option, maybe a little extra volume might get the point across.

But now I'm sitting quietly and waiting, between appointments, for the next crisis, Kleenex box at the ready and Counseling Center on speed-dial, but some of these messes require sturdier tools. 

Hand me a shovel, will you? It's time to start digging.

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