Support networks

I had first day jitters this morning before I walked into my freshman comp class, but when I saw the fear in my students’ eyes and remembered that for most of them, my class was their first college class ever, I was able to relax and remind myself that it is my job to support their success in my class and beyond, and I am more than happy to do that. I am one person in a vast network of people here on campus that supports student success and growth, and I cherish my role.

I have people who do that for me as well.

I’ve been stealthily avoiding committee members since yesterday at our all-day professional development workshop series, but of course this morning on my way to my office from the copy room, my advisor stepped into the elevator with me. He was kind, asking me about my new haircut and telling me about his new dog (who will be in his office on Wednesdays!), and then he invited me to his office to chat.

I was so nervous. I didn’t want to tell him what I was thinking, which was that I am a giant failure and need to postpone my exams yet again, and that I had really wanted to avoid this conversation for as long as possible.

Although most people in my cohort will take their exams in February, I kept pushing to take mine earlier. But it’s not going to happen. Too much personal stuff happened this summer and my new work schedule is out of control, so my research just got totally derailed. I’m feeling a little impostor-y and my confidence has nose-dived.

But my advisor was encouraging and supportive. When he talks to me, it’s like he can always see the silver lining in my choices. He always sees the best in me and tries to support me when I am slipping. He asks me what I need and helps me see new possibilities.

All of us feel overwhelmed and defeated at various points. But if we have a good support network, we can stay afloat.

I know what it feels like to be drowning and ask for a lifeline and have the person on the other end just stare blankly at you while you flail.

My advisor always throws me the line. And I throw it to my students as well.

Who’s in your support network? Who can you share anything with and you know they’ve got your back? How often do you show up like that for others?

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