One hour makes a difference



Column by Fatimah Shalash.  E-mail [email protected]

As a second year marriage and family therapy graduate student, I find this to be inherently true.  Since the start of the program, I have a heightened sense of the complex emotions others experience, as well as my own.

And I have noticed that despite each person having a unique struggle, some of the same themes and feelings unite everyone: loneliness, pain and sadness. But the biggest challenge of all is finding the courage to share this pain with others.

Society tells us to be fiercely independent and to “deal with” things on our own. We are taught to control our emotions and that sad feelings are bad and unhealthy to have. Getting help or going to therapy may reflect weakness or say you’re “crazy,” and medication is the quick fix.

Through my own trial and error, I have quickly found the opposite to be true. It takes a stronger person to reach out and ask for help. It takes a braver person to reveal vulnerability to another. It is the harder thing to do, but as Lois Lowry says in the book The Giver, “The worst part of holding the memories is not the pain. It’s the loneliness of it. Memories need to be shared.”

It can be easier to put a smile on your face than have to explain to someone what you’re going through. He or she might not understand. He or she may judge you or might feel burdened.

I know this, because I have had these very thoughts run through my mind.

But during the past year, I have realized that constantly trying to control your emotions and hide them is exhausting.

Sometimes to relieve sadness or painful emotions, we actually have to let ourselves feel it — and more importantly, to share it with others.

As simple as that may sound, we have become adept at distracting ourselves from doing so, because we are either constantly moving from one thing to the next or are scared of what we may find.

Slow down. Take time to be introspective; you may be surprised at how resilient you really are.  The wise Aristotle said we cannot learn without pain, and I suspect he is right. My own struggles have given me a greater capacity to feel the good.

Free and low-cost counseling resources are available on campus that offer you this opportunity. The Family Center is located in Scovell Hall and offers individual, marriage and family therapy. The Counseling and Testing Center in Frazee Hall offers free individual counseling to students.

Take an hour each week and dedicate it to just you. You deserve it.