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Another Side of Joe

Heights Columnist

Published: Sunday, November 20, 2011

Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01

September seems like it was just yesterday. We sailed through October and donned our crazy costumes on Halloween. Half of November is in the books, and we're just two days away from Thanksgiving break. When we come back, we'll have just a few weeks of class before finals, the conclusion of the term, and winter break. The semester was about as long as this first paragraph, but hopefully you did not find either too painful to suffer through.

This means, of course, that it is time to be reflective. Perhaps this will be helpful, but more likely you'll think I'm a selfish, pretentious ass. If you've been reading my columns for the past two years, you probably already do.

Halfway through my first semester at Boston College I didn't think my diploma would be in Latin because I felt I could never hack it here. It seemed everyone here was smarter and better looking than me. I had a girlfriend a thousand miles away who I thought would leave me if I stayed on the East Coast. It turned out that everyone was not as smart as I thought they were, and I developed what could be described as a healthy arrogance to cope with the perceived arrogance of my classmates. My girlfriend did leave me, but I got over it by beginning to carve out my place at BC.

Sophomore year I moved into an Edmond's apartment with three strangers and began pursuing the affection of a young woman who did not have reciprocal feelings. These three strangers became my closest friends and did their best to quite literally coach me through this situation. They talked to me much like coaches would talk to a quarterback having a bad game. I never did win the girl (in fact, I'm pretty sure she despises me), but these men became my best friends, and three of us are together in Edmond's again as seniors. It was during the first semester of sophomore year that I realized there are very good and also some bad people here; I learned to choose carefully and correctly to whom to give my time and affection.

It was during my first semester of junior year that I came to know for sure that teaching is my true vocation. I was placed at a Catholic girls' school for my second pre-practicum experience and was initially very resistant to it. By the end of my time there, though, I came to love not only teaching but also teaching at a Catholic school. Because of these young women and the encouragement of my supervisor, I have decided that I would like to teach in Catholic schools.

For my final first semester and full practicum experience, I was placed at a Catholic boys' school. Full-time student teaching is rewarding but also very demanding. To add to this stress my grandmother, who helped raise me and with whom I have lived since my parents' divorce, has developed severe dementia. Again this semester I've been pursuing the affections of a young lady, and—to continue the football metaphor—it does not look like I'll be completing any passes because I keep getting sacked.

To top it all off, and most stressful of all, I was accused by a young woman of a very heinous act that I did not commit. Because of all these stressors, I sank into a very deep depression. I couldn't complete my work well or on time. I began drinking far too much because it numbed me to the anxiety that had been handicapping me. I'm just now coming out of this deep, dark place. This past week was the first time I have genuinely felt good in over two months. I've had very supportive people to help me. My roommates and, more than anyone else, my dean in the Lynch School are the reasons I was able to pull together as I take final steps in student teaching and the first steps toward my career.

I don't know if anyone will find this column helpful as we journey into the next semester, but it certainly has been cathartic for me. I guess the point of sharing my four first semesters is that no matter how bleak and dark life is, even when nothing is "okay," no matter what we think we can't handle, we will survive.

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