Busy, Busy, But Not Really

My teacher was on vacation this past week and I feel like I got a much-needed break from class time, but that doesn’t really make sense when I think about it.  I’m only taking one class which has only taken place for two weeks and I already feel as if a break was needed.  It’s kind of funny when I think back to my old days of being a full-time student spending nearly my entire day with my face in a book.  I would get a break every once in awhile to play a sport, workout, eat, and maybe sleep.  Life of course is different now and what used to be a piece of cake now seems to drain me emotionally and physically.

My life as of lately has pulled me out of the comfort zone I have built around myself over the past year and a half.  I usually take my sweet time in the mornings getting ready and don’t mind simply sitting around the house waiting for motivation to kick in.  Nowadays I don’t have the luxury to wait for the motivation and must force myself to get up and accomplish my tasks for the day whether the motivation is present or not.  My emotional state is usually at its worst when I wake up in the mornings and slowly gets better and better throughout the day until it’s time for bed again when I’m usually at my peak of positivity and peace of mind.  My 11:30 a.m. class requires me to overcome my low point of the day as I have to get up, take a shower and take care of spinal cord maintenance business before heading off to campus.  The entire time I am getting ready for some reason I’m a bundle nerves as I repeat my current mantra over and over in my head.  I have recently taken a break from my mantra as it seems I have created a correlation between the words and nervousness, so now when I repeat the words it subconsciously creates nervousness.  The mind is such a twisted, conniving apparatus.

This past week I wasn’t even in class but could still sense an underlying feeling of nervousness.  I think it’s difficult for me right now to wrap my mind around all that is going on in my life so that my lack of complete comprehension and preparation causes me to get nervous.  The three main features of my life at the moment consist of class, doing a volunteer assignment for the class, and Project Walk.

I have six more weeks of class time in which I have to get 20 hours of volunteer work in order to write a paper.  At first I had no idea how I would volunteer until the thought of volunteering at the rehab hospital came to me.  I then realized that I have been trying to volunteer at the rehab hospital for over a year now and have yet to see any official results.  I decided to try again anyways and very quickly once again got stuck in the sand.  So I headed over to the service learning department on campus and they suggested tutoring at a center which helps adults either trying to get their life back on track or simply wish to learn.  I immediately thought tutoring was a horrible idea mostly because I was afraid of failing.  I figured I probably didn’t have much to offer someone and would probably spend more time learning the material myself rather than teaching it.

I had experience in college in which I tried being a supplemental instructor for Botany class which I got an A in the previous semester.  On top of being an SI instructor I had a huge workload of classes including Zoology, Chemistry, and Precalculus.  I ended up putting so much pressure on myself to be a good instructor that I spent more time studying Botany than any of my other subjects.  I was slowly falling behind in my classes so I had to quit.  All the students thought I quit because of this annoying loud mouth who asked me how I got an A because it seemed like I didn’t know anything.  Sadly, I let the comment offend me even though I previously knew his tendency to attack others when he didn’t know the answers.  Anyways, I found myself actually enjoying being an SI instructor but it was just taking up too much of my time being that I refused to walk in on a session without having a good grasp of the material.

Back to my present life, I ended up e-mailing the lady in charge of the tutoring service and began asking her a bunch of questions which conveyed my apprehension.  She replied in confidence that I would surely be able to help as many people were simply learning how to read.  I told her math was by far not my strong point and she assured me I didn’t have to tutor anyone in math.  Her explanations of the program eased my nervousness somewhat but of course I was still timid.  Sunday night I made the last-minute decision to give it a try.

The following afternoon I was late at I rolled into an orientation of new tutors sitting around a circular table.  I was welcomed amongst the group and looked around me with surprise as I discovered I was the only guy in a group of about six middle-aged women.  For some reason I was expecting people my age to be involved in the program with me.  I immediately felt in over my head and figured each person there was probably an ex-teacher who had experience with this sort of thing.  As the head of the orientation began to talk I was feeling more and more like this was a bad idea.  I think the program mostly caters people who are working for their GED’S which means they are studying high school level material.  By the end of the orientation I felt a bit better and figured I could just help people learn how to read.  For some reason the woman running the orientation had all this confidence in me and seemed really glad to have me there.  I’m not sure why, I could have been a complete idiot for all she knew.

Most all the women left after the orientation but I had a hint of courage within me at the time and decided to check in the lab to see if anyone needed help.  I told the organizers I had some skill in writing and their eyes lit up immediately.  I was led to the back of the room where I was introduced to a young man around my age who was studying for his GED.  There was no nerves at the time because I was immersed in the situation.  As I have said before, most of my nerves only stem from anticipation.  I talked to him for a little while at first to show him that I am just a normal kid who is in a wheelchair.  Many times people associate the wheelchair with abnormal brain functioning so I thought it was important to convey my normalcy.  He then showed me what he was working on.  It was a part of the exam which focuses on story editing.  It gives you a few paragraphs and then multiple-choice questions which ask your various things about how to switch around certain sentences, what to remove and so forth.  When I first looked at the material my heart began to pound as I realized these questions were going to be hard even for me, and I was supposed to be the tutor.  My heart slowly eased to a normal pace as I began to read over the questions and formulate a plan of how I was going to go about this.  Not knowing the exact answers myself I ended up having him join in on the process with me of trying to figure out the answer.  I think many people sometimes don’t do well on tests because they aren’t aware of the process of narrowing down the choices.  As we got into the material I felt like the session went very well and instead me doing any actual teaching we more so worked together to find the answers and discover strategies of choosing the best possible answer when there is more than one to choose from.

Having this first session helped me realize that being a tutor does not necessarily mean you have all the answers.  A tutor is much different than a teacher.  Much like being a supplemental instructor a tutor can help guide a person to finding the answers on their own.  Instead of saying “This how you do it”, I say, “Well let’s look in the book and try to figure this out together”.  If I approach tutoring in this manner I should really feel no pressure to know the material and the student will probably learn more in this manner of tutoring anyways.  Both of us win.  I also must recognize that there might be people whom I won’t be able to help and that’s OK.  I’m hoping that knowing this will help me go into tutoring nerve free but it’s pretty unlikely.

As far as Project Walk goes, my trial visit is still set for July 24th.  My family and I have decided that flying is the best choice for right now.  If we drove for the trial visit and then decided to move to San Diego we would have to drive all over again.  My Dad seems quite OK with this scenario but I’d rather only make the trip once.  Flying might unveil many complexities of its own but we will survive most likely.

I’m not going to try and convey all the emotions I have concerning moving and pursuing this possibility of my life.  I’m not sure if I even could if I tried as I’m not sure what these emotions are at the moment.  I am certainly going to miss my hometown and the people whom I have met.  If I do move, I will surely have to throw a big going away bash.

Going to see Tom Petty tonight!  Should be a blast!

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23 Responses to Busy, Busy, But Not Really

  1. Shannon says:

    Who knows, maybe you will discover a love for teaching within yourself through your tutoring experience!  Im sure you will do great…I think a lot of those people just need someone to go through it with them so they dont feel they are on their own.  It has to be scary enough when you are older than 18 and going back to get your GED. 
    Im sure you will be great and will discover some new confidence in yourself through this experience!
    Have a blast at the concert and have a great weekend!

  2. Sabine says:

    Your right, the mind is amazing and controlling and complex.  I find that it controls yyou even when you think you are in control.  Just when yout hink you have it figured out, I find that it has other ideas in mind and takes control.
    But, if you really put your mind to it you can do anything.  Have faith in your self.  Change sucks big time…but you can do whatever you really want.

  3. Brett says:

    It always rolls around in the back of my head if I was meant to be a teacher. After getting my engineering degree I initially had a tough time finding a job, and decided to work on an MBA so I could start my own business – help revolutionize the world of alternative and renewable energy. But sometimes it seems like I\’m learning innovative leadership skills to use with my technical/problem-solving skills to become that teacher we\’re always hearing is lacking in the classroom.

  4. Patricia says:

    Dear Colin! I hope Tom Petty was excellent!! I\’m so exceited that you are tutoring!! I have always said that you would make an excellent teacher – not to say that "I told ya so!" LOL~~!! Also though – here\’s the thing – most people who are learning something do like to come up with the answers themselves with some assistance – think about how empowering this is – you maybe don\’t realize it or maybe you do-  but teaching them "how" to solve a problem is much more important than teaching them an "answer." I hope that makes sense because I feel strongly about it!
    Oh course I feel nervous about some things – for instance I have a real phobia about public bathrooms!! Insane right! I  know! but it is true! But people aren\’t one of my nervous points – I think like this – Not everyone has to like me – not everyone will like me and that is okay. The best time I feel great about myself is when I am myself and I get along with someone – so I give other people that chance. But mostly and I guess it happens with age some and also going through the accident and injury – I realize that I can\’t maintain a "image" for someone for a significant amount of time – it is tiring and I\’m not willing to do it. As soon as I realized this I became a great friend to others as I gave them the same type of lee-way (sp?). I also realized that to make mistakes were a part of being human and that others could be themselves around me and make their own mistakes. I know you well enough to know your kind ways – give yourself some of that same kindness that you would give a friend. I think you rock! Go for it and dream big!! – many hugs- patti

  5. tracie says:

    Hi Colin
    I hope you had a great time seeing Tom Petty. He will always be one of my favorites.
    I just read through some more of your postings…old archived ones from your website. Truely amazing. You have an incredible ability to allow your readers to feel your emotions. You talk about being nervous, and self-conscience, and embarrassed- yet you put it all out on the table….. very courageous ! I love your sense of humor.
    I\’m sure I will be back to read more.
    Take care of you. GOD BLESS.

  6. Sanjana says:

    Firstly congratulation of being featured on best if MSN spaces. I think it is an honor really. so you better be proud man… thats how i got here. and you seem pretty interestion so i hope i come to check out your space more often so i can get to know you better
    your courage is commendable. and the thing about the mind yeah its true what they say. mind over matter. your mind controls prety much everything and a man who has control on that is pretty much in control.  I had an experience last year tha t i would like to share with you. i used to be an asthmatic for the last 11 years alwyas on medication always quiting jobs becoz my lungs couldnt take it. and i always felt there was so much to be achieved that i havent becox of my weak lungs. over a perios of time i got so melancholy that whenever i met with people the first thing they would ask about my lunds. i had become synonymous with my asthma heeh. what a great start to conversaton. so my mind was more full of it than my lungs were . it reached a point where anything psychological that i couldnt handle it would trigger an attack. it got to a apoint where i was on the berathing machine pretty much all the time.so that was my life the asthma or rather i had made it my whole life
    i had forgotten myself. i had always wnated to bea writer and so manyt hings i had wanted to do. if only i would be free to do them
    so when i was between jobs i decided to put this jobless state to some use.i started writing and blogging and along with that i took on  a new doc and also started excericising . and  i am amazed at what my mind has been able to achieve Colin. it is true. i hav been off antibiotics for the last 6 months. no steroids i cant tell you how good that is. whenever anyone asks me abuot hte asthma. i say i dont have it anymore
    finally i am out of it and i have got my life back i think. so when you go in for project walk i want you to remember one thing. that you and on ly you can make it happen . i wish you well and i pray for you colin and in my heart i know you can make it happen. you must find the faith. initiallly when i would find myself reverting to self pity and failure what i would do is open an excel  file and type in these words over again
    I am gonna make it .
    when you have typed it like a fifty times believe me you are psyched into thinking that you are gonna make it which by the way you are
    its just that when you see something in writing its easier for your mind to retain it. this exercise has b een really good for me. i wuold type again and again. i am healthy. i have a great pair of lungs that are going to beat everything.
    so man believe in yourself and sorry i didnt mean to rant away. take care. and i know project walk will work. you will make it work. and i am not going to wish you luck coz i know you dont need it . I can see that you have in you what it takes. so go for it. colin.

  7. Casey says:

    Hi Colin
    I recently came across your site by it being featured on the MSN home page. I am definetly now going to be a regular on the site! They say that God never gives us more than we can handle so he must have thought you could handle alot when he chose you for your life!! You are a very inspiring person with an amazing attitude. I have caretaken for a quadrapalegic who has M/S and I am so amazed at people like you and her who seem to have the best outlook on life!! Our minds are definetly a very strong aspect of making us nervous about things, when most of the time it is never as bad as what our mind has led us to believe about a situation. The only thing we can trust in is that God is always with us and will help us. I know change can be hard especially when we have no idea what to expect but like I said before we can always expect that God will be there for us, which for me is far better than anything I can do on my own power!!! Like I sadi I will definetly be a regular on your site from now on!! Keep on inspiring by just being YOU!!!

  8. Lisi says:

    congrats on being featured on MSN Spaces!

  9. Michaela says:

    I hope you had a blast at Tom Petty! It sounds like volunteering to tutor will be awesome ! I was thinking about doing stats since I m doing well in the class and my teacher is very different !

  10. Mud Treasure says:

    I can plainly see that you are a very strong individual.  Congratulations on Best of MSN feature.  You should be proud.  You have so much to be proud of.  MT

  11. ncjenn2nd says:

    I think you have discovered the true meaning of teaching…even if you don\’t realize it!  I teach second grade, and I rarely show students how to do something they are struggling with (sound mean? not really) I give them the tools and the confidence to figure out what they are working on.  So few students and adults understand how to reason and work through issues to get to a logical answer, and what you are doing is perfect!  I don\’t know all the answers, and I don\’t ever pretend to, even with my students, they have corrected or informed me on things several times, and that is the beauty of being human.  Good job on finding the right way on your own, that shows you care!  Have a great week!

  12. Unknown says:

    Dear Colin,
    Congrats on getting featured and more importantly on kicking in some motivation.  You are doing a terrific job and this website will inspire others.  Our thoughts are with you.

  13. Betty says:

    I\’ve enjoyed reading your blog! It seems that you are wholly intent on the brass ring, despite the barriers.  I\’ve been disabled for nearly a decade, so I know about those barriers too.
    It\’s a good thing for people to read about the pitfalls and instabilities we occasionally feel, Colin.  Good for you for writing about them.  So much has changed for the better in terms of access, yet, so much as not.  Able bodied people, bless their hearts, see all the wheelchair ramps and braille signage, and they\’re led to believe that everything is fixed.  Unfortunately, that is hardly the case.  There is still the matter of people who choose to exclude, and there are so many quiet, unseen (except to us) ways of doing that.  Moreover, they read about some guy with a disability who climbed a mountain, or swam the English Channel, or flew to the moon without benefit of a spaceship, and they get the idea that we\’re all able to do the same thing.  It\’s the old "if you really wanted to," mentality.  People can invalidate us in so many ways; sometimes through innocence, but sometimes with a mean spirited heart. 
    That said, it\’s a big world.  I\’ve also met the most wonderful able bodied people in disability years.  Sometimes, I\’m amazed that they know the things they know about human dignity, without having incurred a disaiblity themselves.  Most friends bailed on me.  You mentioned something about that, too, as I recall.  A few friends stayed, and are still present and accounted for.  In the end, I found that I didn\’t lose even one friend, as the others never were that.  The other, less wonderful aspects of living in what can seem like an able bodied world are just the facts of life.  It\’s a head game I intend to win on good days, and a fight to win on the rest.
    That\’s what most of this has been, Colin, a head game. 
    Just to share:  My current challenge is the flute and jazz theory.  I\’m also studying the Croatian language, and will begin learning Spanish with a friend soon.  There\’s nothing like taking on two language studies at the same time!  Also, the flute is a hard instrument for me, so it\’s the perfect pursuit.  I don\’t like a life that\’s too easy. 
    San Diego:  I lived there, and loved every minute of it.  You will be fine, Colin.  I lived on the East Coast all of my life — hometown girl — yet quickly adapted.  I\’m going back in the fall myself for a month, because I miss Southern California so much.  Explore, explore, explore!  It\’s a wonderful area. 
    If you want to contact me, please do not hesitate.  I will be delighted to communicate with you.       
    Wishing you the best,

  14. Aimee says:

    i hate mornings too….in fact i try not to talk to people for the first 2 hours i am awake…
    just out blog surfing and thought i\’d leave a comment so that you would know i was here….pop by my space if you have some free time….
    :o) smiles are free… :o) and contagious… :o) so pass them on… :o) to people you love… :o) and even to those you don\’t… :o)

  15. Lessie says:

    Instead of saying “This how you do it”, I say, “Well let\’s look in the book and try to figure this out together”. 
    Great perspective. Thanks for sharing that.

  16. Val says:

    hi there.. just sitting here doing some blog hopping around.. come across som pretty interesting blogs.. awesome and truly amazing stories.. so much to say..but would just like to say… have loads of fun in all you do in life.. take care..
    keep smiling.. keep shining and most of all keep safe..
    smiles and hugsss

  17. Tina says:

    See now when I read "tutoring" I thought that was an excellent idea!!  
    On occasion, I have to do trainings for work.  I have always been scared to death of speaking in front of people.  I never thought that I would be able to do it.  But I do.  Sometimes I have to remember that I know more than they do.  And the things that I didnt know I figured out.  I learned almost as much from teaching as I did from being a student – about the subject matter and about myself.
    I am glad that life has been pulling you out of your comfort zone.  I always feel better about myself when I push myself thru the fear.  I hope that the Project Walk thing works out for you.  It sounds like a great program.  And living in San Diego for a while will be awesome.  I am getting excited for you!
    Hope you enjoyed Tom Petty!

  18. kelli says:

    Hi, Colin!
         I am so jealous that you\’re going to see Tom Petty!! He\’s great.  Just wanted to let you know that I\’m praying for you and sending good thoughts your way as you tackle tutoring, class, and now Project Walk! 

  19. David says:

    It seems to be in the nature of most people who are good at things to feel internally that they are not very good at all and are almost faking it.  This is far more a personality trait, than it is something that gets solved.  The more experience you get, the more things you will discover that you don\’t know, haven\’t done, never thought of.  I am guessing that you will never get over a lot of the insecurities you have about your skills and aptitudes – at best you will just transfer these to the next challenge.  Like I said it is a personality trait, not a fact.  If people seem confident you can do well, or will do well, they are probably right.   People with confidence often seem to end up being like the loudmouth in your class you mentioned and never learn anything.   You write well (most don\’t) so you must be intelligent.  So relax and enjoy, for gosh sakes.  There is actually a small but statistically significant chance that if you slip up here and there, the world will continue to spin on its axis. 

  20. BP says:

    Congratulations on being featured by MSN. Ironically, I happened to come across your site by way of small\’s site the other day and quickly bookmarked your blog as a must read. This particular entry was very compelling to me and I am elated to see that you are stretching your legs out into the able-bodied world, despite your apprehensions, fears, and sometimes lack of enthusiasm. I am able really relate to the majority of what you have described, as I also experienced much of these emotions as I went to school and went through similar processes. I didn\’t have an opportunity to discover what level of injury you sustained, but I am encouraged by how you are not letting the obstacles you face slow you down in the least, especially being such a new injury.
    As for the mornings, I chose to have as few classes in the morning as was possible when I attended school. I just hate getting up too early and I also find that I am more creative and full of piss and vinegar later in the evening. If you feel like writing, don\’t hesitate. Anyway, great entry and keep up the writing, you are really good. I often wish I was able to convey what is happening in my life a little better than I do. Oh well, that is life.
    Hope you enjoyed the concert and hopefully you were able to see everything without any difficulties.

  21. BP says:

    I just went back to your home page and discovered what level of injury sustained. Your achievements are remarkable! Reading this entry makes me feel a little guilty that I have not been working on various things lately. Hopefully I will find my niche and be able to get on with the rest of my life.

  22. Teri says:

    Hi Colin,
    I was feeling quite down after learning a rejection from a dream job interview at the Medecins San Frontiers (Doctors without Borders).
    Was so close to reaching my childhood dream yet it smashed just like this…
    So was trying to blog about my sad feelings when I came across your blog.
    Wow, I\’m really inspired by you!
    Amazingly, the divine creator always has his ways of bringing the best out of situations in our lives and though it must not be easy for u to undergo what u\’ve been, but just wanna encourage u that u\’ve certainly made a difference in many of your readers\’ lives with your sharing-so real yet inspiring!
    Keep living out your dreams and all the best ya!
    Best regards
    Teri, Singapore

  23. Patricia says:

    Just stopping by to see how things are going – how are ya?
    my best, patti

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