Over the past few days I’ve been leading groups of new first year students around the campus to give them a gentle and friendly introduction to campus life. Most of my “mentees” were mature age students, and I shared some of my history with them as a way of explaining that life has challenges, but there are mechanisms in place within the university to support people who have added challenges, and that different people have different challenges – your worries are every bit as valid as mine. We all need a bit of help sometimes.
I made a point of stopping the tour outside campus wellbeing and explaining in detail about the services they offer. Mostly because I don’t know if I would still be at uni without that support, and because I know that the attrition rate for first year students is really high, and I want “my” team to know that help is available when life gets sticky.
And the response I got was the usual “you’re amazing”. I didn’t think much of it at the time, apart from a general uneasiness. Later I reflected that going to uni is a very selfish act, and that the people that support me to do this are the amazing ones. My husband is amazing. His forbearance and tolerance border on saintly at times. I’m not amazing. I am a sorry and broken person who has no choice but to gather the pieces in a bucket and carry on.
Without Squish, without Mark, I wouldn’t have even been able to find a bucket. Without my parents, my in-laws, my friends and family, I’d be living on the streets and eating out of bins. Or I’d be dead.
So I loved this piece I read today. We are amazing because we are human. Extending empathy and compassion is part of what makes us human, and without that we lose our humanity.