Friday, September 20, 2013

Moment by Moment: On Encouraging Yourself While Encouraging Others

It was the end of class, and everyone was packing up and heading home.

Student: "Dr. TJ, do you mind if I talk to you for a few moments."

Me: (packing up to head home) "Sure. What's going on?"

Student: "I don't know if I'm cut out for this. Looking over all of the assignments for the semester is making me feel like maybe I shouldn't be doing this."

Wow.  I had had an identical conversation with myself that morning.  Feeling totally consumed by all of the work that was ahead of me - teaching, research, service, homelife, finances, health, etc., I just didn't know if I was prepared to take it all on.  I was feeling inadequate, and in the moment above, so was my student.  So there I was trying to encourage someone who was suffering from the same thing that I was.

So, I took a deep breath and reminded my student of a few things:

  • I wasn't asking my students to take on the whole semester at once.  We were going to tackle the semester week by week, task by task. 
  • They were capable of the work, especially because they were self aware and understood that there was so much to learn.  
  • I wanted them to hang in there for just a semester before they proclaimed that they weren't "cut out" to be a teacher.
  • I asked them to be kind to themselves.  Everything was new, so it was ok not to know things. 
They agreed to take the semester moment-by-moment and not allow personal commitments, issues, and insecurity to talk them out of what they believed they really wanted to do. 

As the student walked away, I realized that while I was talking to them, I was just as much talking to myself.  I believe things happen for a reason, and I know this moment happened because I needed to say these things aloud -- for ME.  The morning prior to this conversation had been tough; I had been having similar feelings as my student.  But I dug deep, pushed through, and had a great class.  

So like my student, I am figuring out how to be kind to myself. I'm new, so I won't have all of the answers.  I'm committed to hanging in there and having a great semester.  I will allow my self-awareness to help me make wise decisions as a professor and researcher. I will take the semester on class-by-class and task-by-task.  I have the syllabus as a roadmap, so no need to spin myself into a panic. 

I will conclude this post with an oldie-but-goodie gospel song: Encourage Yourself. Try it! 

Until next time . . . I'll be prepping for class next week and taking this new endeavor moment by moment. 

1 comment:

  1. Wow!!! I needed that reminder too... Thanks for sharing ;)