One thing I notice about students is that they feel lost. Now, I’m not sure if this is a result of pressure from society or family, or social media, or themselves, or the institution itself, but they feel pressured. Not only do they express pressure, but they also focus on indecision. They focus on finding it difficult to focus as a result of the pressure. Seems like a tireless cycle, doesn’t it? Well, for many of them it is. Just earlier this week I had a student approach me with the angst of needing something to shoot for. It’s her first semester in college and I told her not to worry, not to focus excessively on the end but on the journey that just started for her. “It’s your first semester, don’t worry about it. Write down your interests so you know what passes through your thoughts, and you can decide later,” I said.
“But I feel like I need to know now. Wouldn’t it be better to know now what I want to do, so I can have a plan?” she said, looking down at her notebook, putting it into her bag with the fatigued embarrassment motion.
“Well, yes and no,” I said. “If you don’t know right now what you want to do for the rest of your life, or even as your fist career, it’s not the end of the world. But, if you have some idea as to what your interests and curiosities are, that’s not a bad spot to be in,” I added.
I could be misguiding her, I know, but I’m quite sure and confident that I’m not. Why? Because I’m advising her to take her time, don’t rush. When students rush into choices, that’s when they can make mistakes. So any student reading this, take your time. Write ideas down, write dreams and possibilities down… WRITE DOWN YOUR CURIOSITIES.
There’s so much pressure on people of all ages today, with how quickly information and advertising is disseminated. I don’t want to add to that. I’m a teacher, and my focus is the student, what they want, ensuring they’re comfortable. What a concept, focusing on the student and how they feel rather than what they should be doing or what they should be by a certain point in their life. This pressure is spreading, I’m noticing. When I ask students what they want to major in, even, they respond with frustration and hesitation, like they’re ashamed they don’t have their entire existence’s trajectory plotted. The cycle, vicious, and so many that claim to be aware of it, other teachers, are what keep pushing the carousel ‘round. I start to feel the anxiety, pressure, angst as a teacher, like I should have some magic words which solve everything, take away all the negativity in their thoughts and bloodstreams. Why can’t I?
Because I’m human. Because THEY, are human. “You’re human,” I said to the girl the other day, “you can just pull miracles from your bag,” I said, or something like that. She smiled, finished packing, left the room. I stayed to pack up but as well have my usual meditation after a class, staring at the empty seats, remembering when I was a student, and how that pressure can be crippling. I’m never going to add to it, I’ve resolved. Ever.