Finding emotional guidance and support at school


By Greg Caceres

Talking isn’t always easy, and much less so amidst the exhaustion brought on by school. Struck down by the hand of coursework and resume building, students are often left without a moment even to sleep, much less call home. All the same, it’s necessary.

Parents matter, believe it or not. No one would have gotten very far without them; few would have gotten to college without them, and even fewer would have stayed there. Going away to school doesn’t change relational truths: students need the outlet that families provide. They need it just as much today as they did before they could see R-rated movies and sign affidavits alone.

In the University’s 2014-2015 Counseling Center report, the center’s director Carla McCowan noted a 12 percent increase in individual and group appointments. Counseling Center Annual Report.pdf

This doesn’t just indicate an increase in stress levels, but also shows a student body more willing to reach out and get support. It’s no secret that talking about issues is a huge help and encouragement in such cases of stress. We as students, and really as humans, know we need that help sometimes.

Sadly, and to the great dismay of those parents who wait by the phone, this generation seems to be subject to increasing amounts of depression and pain. But there’s something in those words that bring great joy and hope; my parents are waiting by the phone, not expecting or demanding, but desiring to hear my voice and know how I am.

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    Someone recently woke me up to the fact that my parents don’t know how I’m doing. They don’t even have a clue. I don’t call my parents as often as I should; it just isn’t easy for me. Then again, neither is being alone in defeating the difficulties found when away at school.

    And not everyone has the opportunity to rely on parents for support. It may be that some parents just aren’t emotionally available to their kids, or not available at all. That can be a big hole to fill, especially in the already difficult context of long distance conversation.

    Hopefully the University’s one-to-one counseling can serve to encourage and benefit those students; conversation is key, and even for the counseling center to act as a proving grounds for engaging in helpful speech would be a great step for anyone who doesn’t know where to go — if only to see what bravery it takes to reach out to other people in life.

    Though it won’t always be something to delight in, or even be excited about, to pick up the phone or go to a counseling center and make every effort to communicate will be beneficial. There are other ways to communicate, but even those have been increasingly neglected by students. It seems we find a variety of ways to ignore the help available to us.

    According to USPS studies over the past decade, non-advertising mail volume has been cut in half from nearly six billion postmarked cards in 2006 to today’s three billion. It reflects the not-so-surprising result of the digital age: It’s simply easier to contact through email, phone calls, text and social media than it is through letter writing. Cheaper too, if we’re to be honest.

    But cursive is a dead art form, so what need is there to bother with something that holds cursive as an expected and formal prerequisite? All the more reason, in fact. Not for some hipster causation stating that, since it’s dying out, one should invest in stamps and postcards and walk on to the nearest blue box in his best pair of shoes. No, not because it is easy nor because it’s trendy, but because it’s a great way to communicate.

    Letter writing shows a certain dedication to the person whose name appears in such beautiful font. It’s the personal touch that seems to be lacking when over the phone, since by simple rote and custom it’s common for conversations to take a dull and superficial turn.

    Letters make us more bold in how we speak and allow ourselves to be spoken to. They also bridge the gap of time that generally makes phone calls so difficult for full time students; men and women in any stage of adult life can take nothing more than a half hour at a time to really pour their heart out, and not feel obligated to do so again until a response arrives.

    But in the end this isn’t a call to arms for pen and paper, but an encouragement to commune with those who have taught us what community and love are. 

    However one may seek out the help and guidance of those who wait, let them do it in earnest and longing, knowing that on the other end great joys and calming voices offer themselves patiently.

    Greg is a freshman in DGS.

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