Wednesday, May 07, 2008

As I walked inside, he seemed to regard me with a certain apprehension. We sat. He continued looking at me with that careful look, now slightly incredulous. Nobody spoke for a moment.

I ventured, "Is something ... wrong?"

He raised an eyebrow. "Well. The last time we spoke, you were a bit overwrought."

Embarrassed he remembered, I shook my head. "You've been a professor for twenty years." I felt rueful, but defensive. "You've seen dozens of students cry."

I had cried. I had tried not to, though it was an enormous relief to cry at someone who had no personal obligation to say nice things to me.

I was overwhelmed by the final assignment of the course. I was so nervous about it that I had seen him four weeks in a row, pelting him with questions each time and pleading for advice; although he sent me home each time with something to do, I was set back the next time I would see him, when he would have to tell me my idea was not feasible.

The last such setback had me dissolving into tears in his office -- the first time I had ever cried in front of a professor, even through past times when I was as troubled. As I kept soaking up tears with a tissue and staring into my lap, hiccuping between words, he became so puzzled by my anxieties -- the first time we spoke, I realized he thought of me as impassive; he was too surprised when I confessed I had been worrying for three weeks already -- that he sat in his "psychologist" chair and asked me what I was really worried about.

He could not understand how a student of my academic standing (respectably accomplished, although by no means stellar) could be racked with this much anxiety. When I told him I didn't think I was that accomplished, that it was only because I had the luck of less sterling classmates (I overlooked that this was patently untrue for this class), he told me I had "serious" self-esteem issues. I thought of the countless other things I fretted over; I couldn't disagree, but I didn't think that meant I was wrong either. I kept this last sentiment to myself.

I told him I didn't think I could hand in an assignment that would let me hold my head up. He told me my expectations were set unrealistically high. I told him I was afraid I would fail. He told me it was nigh impossible for me to fail.

I did not tell him I was terrified of not doing well by him. I did not tell him that he had taught me so much that I felt as though I could write a thousand essays just slightly imperfect and fall entirely short of his accomplishment to me. This imbalance, this error of reciprocity, was what was driving me mad. I was crying.

When I finally stopped, the relief was brief. It was also false. The tears had resulted in only guilt -- not only that I had violated that social code that says you must maintain control, stoic passivity in public, but that I had allowed him some undue bias; I was worried he'd feel sorry for me. I had probably made him feel too self-conscious about sending me away so he could speak to other students who were waiting. He didn't know, but once I left his office, smiling waterily at my classmates, red eyes averted, I went to the washroom only ten feet away and cried in a stall for another fifteen minutes, free to sob in a way I had not let myself in front of him.

He agreed. "I have seen a lot of crying students. But it doesn't mean I don't still care about each of them."

I sighed inwardly. I had cried because my hope had been that he wouldn't care at all.

posted at 5:14:08 pm

J f Z
May 8, 2008   01:33 AM PDT
First of all, I'm pissed off because I just typed-typed-typed and then hit [cancel] instead of [post].

Have you finished reading Dr. Wu's book, "Yellow" ?

If so, and if you're apt to share, I'd love to give it a read. I'll give you a mailing address. I'd send it back or forward it to someone at your direction when I finish reading it.

Scooter chicks shouldn't cry.

May 7, 2008   09:06 PM PDT
Aww, G. *hug*

Leave a Comment:


Homepage (optional)


Previous Entry | Next Entry

<< May 2008 >>
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
 01 02 03
04 05 06 07 08 09 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31

Glo'ri'a'na, noun:
1. An alternative form of "Gloria."
2. As "Americana" defines itself as artefacts of American culture, "Gloriana" consists of the artefacts of my culture.


home | contact | profile

art    blogging    body    childhood    consumerism    dream    durr    family    fashion    film    history    humour    internet    language    lit    nerd    people    poetry    rant    romance    school    sex    social relations    toronto    ttc    work   

If you want to be updated on this weblog Enter your email here: