I'm a counselor who works with college students. In past lives, I was a teacher, a resident director in a freshman residence hall (gasp!) and I also worked as a high school counselor. Basically, my career has been built around talking to people. Sometimes I talk AT them, but I usually try not to do that. Over the years, I have found myself giving advice (though I try not to do that), and some of it has been helpful to the people I've worked with. Most of the time I try to help people come to their own resolution, because I believe you really know the answer to your predicament; I just have to help you cut through all the crap that stops you from thinking clearly.
One of my former students told me I should write a book with all of the tidbits of "wisdom" I give to my students, but Lord knows, half the time I don't remember what I tell people. So I thought I might start writing some of it down here, and you (whoever takes the time to read this) can tell me if you think I'm right or what. Honestly, I know I'm not always right, I just couldn't think of a catchier title for this blog.
I'm good at receiving constructive feedback, whether positive or negative, but don't ridicule me, or I'll have to hunt you down. (I should say here that I'm originally from Brooklyn, and have a tendency to talk tough, even though I'm not even 5 feet tall. Take it for what it is.)
So, here goes...
In my line of work, I get a lot of people who make excuses. Now, I do understand that everyone has certain circumstances that might have held them back from succeeding at whatever they set out to do. I understand that we're not all born with the tools necessary to achieve the "American Dream". I know. I was raised in public housing in Brooklyn, my mother was on welfare and my father was on disability, and I have eight older siblings. I witnessed some scary stuff as a child - people on drugs, people in gangs (though they didn't really shoot each other back then, they just "rumbled"), even some traumatizing stuff in my own family. Something told me that I needed a good education in order to have a different life from those I saw around me. Something told me that the responsibility lied with me if I was going to succeed in life. So, although I have been known to make excuses for not doing certain things, most of the time I just did what I needed to do to get where I needed to go.
Here's just one example of some of the things I hear:
Me: Why aren't you going to class?
Student: It's too early.
Me: What time does it start?
Student: 9:55 - too early for me! The teacher doesn't want me coming late, so I don't go at all.
Are you serious? 9:55 is almost 10 am! Most people have to get up for jobs that start at 9 am. My job starts at 8, and I live 40 minutes away. That means, pretty much, that I have to get up around 5:30 (it takes a while to look this good). I understand that, as a college student, you have late nights. I understand that you need to get some zzz's at some point. But if you can't get up for a class that starts at almost 10 am, something is wrong.
And that's why you're failing. Am I right or what?