Sometimes, it feels like weeks take on a feeling, a theme. Last week, it was all about political action. This week, there has been a 360 degree turn, which has led me to think about friendship, support and the importance of common experiences. (I hope that you all let me express my thinking for a bit. I need it. I promise, though, that I will get to a Duran connection eventually.)
Some weeks at work focus on curriculum development or assessment. Unfortunately, my week didn’t have anything to do with that. No, it was about kids who are hurting, emotionally, and for good reasons. I have had students come to me with suicidal thoughts, mental illness, concerns about sexual assault, and discrimination. Yeah, clearly, their problems are not surface ones. These kids came to me for comfort, for hugs, for advice or for a place to vent, to talk, to express their conflicted emotions. With each one, I offered hugs, my ear and any advice that I could. As each one walked away, I felt frustration that I couldn’t do more and sadness that they have to deal with these incredibly tough issues.
As I now sit in my living room, I am left thinking about support. Did I support my students enough? Did it matter that many of their problems are not ones that I have experienced first hand myself? I wondered if their families could or did offer better support. Did their friends? Should I do more? If so, what? Even as I type this, I ache for them. They are so young and have so much on their plates. I admire their strength and their ability to pick themselves up to move forward.
As I ponder these students I am so fond of, I think my own friendships. Do I offer my friends enough support especially when they are struggling? If not, how can I? Then, I think about myself. Things haven’t been awesome for me, either. Am I as strong as my students? Do I seek the support that I need like they do and did? I have to say that I probably don’t as I think I have gotten pretty good at hiding my own pain and putting on a good front. I let pride rule and I don’t often ask for what I need. Again, though, I think about my kids. They didn’t let their pride get in their way.
Is it more than just pride for me? Is it because I assume that no one would understand because they haven’t experienced what I have? Maybe. Does having first hand understanding of something matter? I think of Rhonda. We have had many conversations over the years about how we are the only two people in the world that understands what it is like to be half of the Daily Duranie. I think about those blogs in which people have unleashed it on us, telling us not only that we are wrong but that we are “desperate” or “pathetic” or something similar. If there is a negative comment that gets to me, there is no one better to turn to than Rhonda because she has been there, too. Our unique experience as the Daily Duranie does bring us closer and causes us to lean on each other at times. I wonder if that is the same thing with members of Duran. Have they turned to each other at times solely because they are the only ones who understand what it is like to be a member of the band? Maybe.
Are their some experiences that are so unique that others couldn’t get it and couldn’t give the amount and kind of support that is needed? I don’t know. This is where I fail for myself. I often don’t share problems I have with people who I suspect wouldn’t get it. Now, I have to wonder if I am not giving enough credit to other people. So, this week has reminded me that people can and should ask for help or support when they need it.