I know I’m taking a risk here and looking at this idiom in a very literal sense, but I believe it has a lot to teach us. The idea that if a person is an open book, they are so easy to read, is so misleading. I often find nothing more difficult than deciphering the meaning of a text. A closed book may be even easier to deal with! When I look at a closed book and I unfortunately ‘judge it by its cover’, I can move on and not worry about it. I give myself a right not to worry about something that I haven’t given myself the time to read more about. It’s done and I can move on. It’s closed and I have a vague idea and the idea may be enough. But an open book- now that’s something! I have read countless titles of articles and self-help books, especially for women, encouraging them to be more mysterious, not to wear their heart on their sleeve, because somehow that makes them more vulnerable. I spoke to a friend the other day who was told that she was not attractive enough because she is always an open book. She is one of the most sophisticated, smart, and kind individuals I have met. Perhaps being a closed book doesn’t necessarily mean you are more mysterious or somewhat worthy. Maybe being an open book means a person is comfortable enough to share things with the world. They are also smart enough to know that what they share with you, although it may seem to be everything, is actually not everything at all. Any good reader knows that no matter how many books you have access to and how many open books lay in front of you, finding meaning is a complex quest. Perhaps we don’t need more closed books, or more mysterious people. We need to celebrate open books, and encourage ourselves to read between the lines.
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How to get on your teacher’s good side!
Dear lonely teen
Loneliness is a strange thing. It is strange because when we feel we are alone we tend to forget that everybody is alone in one way or another. No matter how close people around are, there are always so many things that only your heart knows, only
your soul can embrace. In that sense, you are detached from everyone else. You have to be able to distinguish between the kind of loneliness where you have no one to talk to or no support system in your life and the kind of loneliness where you feel there is a void within that you do not understand. The former is a loneliness you should work on overcoming. Make friends, be close to your family, seek help when you need it. Everyone deserves to have a connection, a feeling of safety, one that comes through a bond with others. But if you have that or think you have that and still feel a void, some emptiness, then you need to ask yourself why this is the case. Sometimes we feel lonely simply because our happiness depends upon others. Sometimes we feel lonely because we cannot bear the silence. We fear a silence where all we can hear is our breath and the beating of our own heart. And sometimes loneliness is simply because we insist on living inside or minds and shutting everyone else out. If you fear silence, that moment where you are on your own, where your thoughts are too loud, then it’s time to ask yourself why. What is it that upsets you that you cannot be alone with yourself. Talk about it with someone. Don’t isolate yourself. And if it is an emptiness that is a result of waiting, waiting for someone to come along and save you from silence, then it is time to stop waiting and to start living. Waiting is hard and it drains you. Why wait when you can live? And while you live the moment you are far more likely to cross paths with a person worth knowing. But don’t let that be your dream- your only dream- if waiting for someone becomes all you can aim for, then you are destined to be lonely. For even if they come along, and they’ve ‘found you’ you’ll have nothing else to want, to desire, to hope for. And that is the ultimate form of loneliness. Don’t wait. You are not something waiting in ‘lost and found.’ Be and Do and Live.
Write about the goodbyes that hurt your heart. Write about the goodbyes that you wish were never said. Write about the times you thought it would last forever. Write about your fears. Write about the things you lost. Write about the difficult times. Write about the things you wished for but never happened. Write about them. But write about them with a purpose. Write about them so that you can own them. So that they no longer own you- they no longer haunt you. Write about them and decide that once they are written, these feelings are over- they are in the past. Write about them so they can end and you can begin again.
Shakespeare said many great things- but one that is especially important to remember is that “green eyed monster”- jealousy. Jealousy is so complicated- because it may seem like an exterior feeling- something directed toward someone else, but it really ends up creating an antagonist from within. It lurks in your depths, and it is a great contradiction- it is a monster, but as it consumes you, drilling through your heart, it leaves you- empty. It is suddenly everything and nothing. Consider this: How could you be fulfilled when you wish you were someone else? You wish you looked like someone else? You wish you were as loved or liked as someone else?
Jealousy played a very important role in my teenage years. I am not ashamed to admit that I have been jealous- many times. But I forgive myself for it- because, as always, it is part of being human…
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“I CAN’T STAND MY TEACHER!”
You may have said this at some point – you may be saying it right now. So, what can you do about it? Does your teacher seem too strict? Do you feel your teacher’s grading is unfair? Is your teaching boring? Let me tell you how your teacher really feels ….
1- Your teaching is not a machine: While different teachers have different characters, and certainly some teachers are far more interesting than others, it is not reasonable to expect classes to always be entertaining. Your teacher, just like any human being, might be in a bad mood one day or preoccupied with something. While being professional means that a teacher will try their best to leave all their worries at the classroom door, sometimes the worries follow them anyway. Give them a break. If you are in a class and its getting particularly boring (And that isn’t always the case): try to participate and initiate an interesting topic of conversation. Ask your teacher of you can share something that relates to that topic with the class. Your teacher will be grateful to have someone do a little it of the ‘work’ and will appreciate your participation. A boring class could be an opportunity to shine!
2- Ask yourself- Do you really mean it when you say “my teacher hates me”: If your teacher has done anything that shows that she does ‘hate you’ and you feel the need to report this issues, you should of course do so. No student should have tolerate hate from a teacher. However, if you’re just “guessing” that your teacher hates you because you got a bad grade, then you have one of two choices: You can either find out exactly why you got that bad grade, by being honest to yourself and discussing it with the teacher or you can choose to believe the teacher hates you do nothing about it. While it may be easier to assume the teacher hates you than to work harder or find out what it is that you could do to improve your grade, it is actually better for your emotional well being to ascertain that ‘hate’ may not be the problem.
3- While it may be the case that you can’t wait to leave school, a teacher worked hard to make their dream come true: To be standing right there in that classroom teaching a class he or she loves. Show them you care! This one is so important. Imagine that you always wanted to be a famous singer. One day you get a chance to sing at a concert. You stand up there with a crowd. You worked so hard practicing and rehearsing, but when you’re on that stage no one listens. To you, the stage is the world. It is the dream. To everyone watching, it may just be part of their day. Any good teacher that loves their job probably invests a lot of time and effort in their job. For many of us- instructors, teachers, professors, this could have been a life long dream. We need you as students to show that you care. If you always seem miserable, demotivated, and not interested, it can actually be quite hurtful. Try to show you care and your teacher will appreciate the positive energy!
4- Before you say your teacher isn’t fair, make sure you check the grading rubric, the instructions, and any feedback you received previously: For you, it may be an issue of ‘fairness’. For a good teacher, most of the time it is simply: Did you follow directions? Did you check the criteria for grading? Did you ask me ahead of time about my expectations if they weren’t clear? Teachers don’t usually make up grades. They have certain objectives, outcomes, and grading criteria and rubric. You should follow that criteria. Part of your homework should be to make the criteria very clear to yourself and ask the teacher ahead of time. This is the key to successfully completing the assignment!
5- When your teacher does something good, let them know: It is often the case that students complain about classes. They tell teachers they are unhappy or they don’t get a particular assignment or topic or things are too confusing. Of course, it is good to share these things. But, what about those moments in class when your teacher says something really interesting or when your teacher gets you to think about things in a new or fresh perspective? If you say something like “I hadn’t thought of that…it’s great to see things from this perspective” or ” I get it now! Thanks for clarifying” or anything that shows that you’ve learned something, you will make your teacher’s day. If this is a teacher “you can’t stand”, you may see a significant change in attitude when you show that what he or she said mattered.
There are always exceptions. Not all teachers are good or great. But many times, it is just a matter of misunderstanding or miscommunication.