Step Outside Yourself

One of my former students came by to visit me today. He was in my ENC 1102 class for two semesters (he failed the first time and just scraped by the second). The first few weeks he spent in my class, I wasn’t too sure about him. He seemed cocky. He was too mouthy. He was easily distracted and had a knack for distracting the others around him.

But, somehow, without my noticing it, he became my favorite student. I looked to him to offer intelligent feedback when the class discussion stalled. Conferences with him were engaging. He had a laid-back yet superior tone in discussions with his classmates that I found to be riotously funny.

He stopped by, unexpectedly, today. I had bumped into him in the hallways a few times over the past year, but we hadn’t gotten to really talk. Today, he parked himself in my extra chair and chatted.

He told me about his horrid grades from last semester and his mini-meltdown trying to juggle starting a fraternity, working, school and a relationship. We chatted about what kids need to get out of the classes that I teach, what they come to the university system lacking. He told me what he looks for in a girl (a partner, as he called her). We discussed the reasons that we write, what types of writing we find fulfilling.

He told me he thought I was a spaz when he met me. I told him he is still an underachiever.

And we laughed about some of the ideas that have come to him when he was high… which shifted into an extensive conversation about perspective, in narrative and in life. And, finally (and why I think he really came by), we talked about his direction in life, his need for a life GPS… I think he misses his older brother (who is only 3 years younger than me), and he admitted unabashedly that he needs adult influence in his life. I cannot think of a more flattering reason for 21 year old kid to want to spend time talking to me.

He reminds me what is so brilliant about the university experience… the growth, the inquiry, the constant dawning of new ideas and new perspective. He made me proud of who I am and proud of what I do.

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