Being a class representative is often such a burden. And being one of the popular students in my college only makes it worse. My teachers expect me to be strict, always on my best behaviour, a good role model and ensure a good level of discipline. But it’s difficult to do all that when you’re in college. My friends often tease me and call me the teacher’s chamcha when I correct them or stop them from breaking rules. They keep encouraging me to join them in their naughtiness and sometimes when I don’t, they tend to ignore me for the next few days. This makes me feel really bad. There are days when I want to be a part of the fun but I’m torn between my role as a leader and just wanting to be a regular student. I don’t like waking up in the morning and feeling like not going to college. How should I deal with this? Everyone shares such great memories about their college days and I fear I might not have any.
Thank you for writing in and discussing your difficult situation with me. I was once told burdens are usually blessings. Being elected as a class representative is an honour and just like it was said in the Spiderman movie, ‘With great power comes great responsibility’. You probably possess all this greatness in you which is why you got elected but it is currently just clouded by people’s expectations and your own confusion. Remember having fun as a student or leader is acceptable, just as long as it is respectable and peaceful to all who are a part of it. I wonder how much of what weighs you down is not yours to carry. Steve Maraboli said: “If you hang out with chickens, you’re going to cluck and if you hang out with eagles, you’re going to fly.” Being teased and ignored by your friends sounds like a painful experience – no wonder thoughts of skipping college visit you. However, in situations like these sometimes it’s best to rise above the dust of negativity and focus on the better things and the bigger picture. You can’t always control your thoughts but you can choose how you want to respond to them. I bet you’re more capable than you think and not using your talents to the maximum is simply a waste of your greatness then. After all, ‘It is not only for what we do that we are held responsible, but also for what we do not do’ – Moliere. There is much to look forward to and the best thing about memories is making them. Wishing you more power and positivity to ensure a wonderful and memorable time in college.
I am quite dependent on my friends for everything. My parents feel I need to learn to make decisions on my own and start taking a little more initiative. They like my friends but feel that I get too easily influenced by them. I sometimes agree with my parents but I don’t know how to stop being this way. I guess it is just easier to go with the flow which is why I’m usually in the background. Also, my friends are really talented so I’m often nervous about not being good enough to shine on my own. Any suggestions on how I can change this? Thank you.
Thank you for your email and for discussing your predicament with me. It is wonderful to hear of the interest your parents take in you as well as the level and type of understanding you share. Making decisions is scary but not making them leaves you with something even scarier – regret. Once you begin to make your own decisions, you’ll begin to feel more empowered and in control. Good decisions come from experience and experience comes from bad decisions. So either way, it is an opportunity to learn and improve. It is occasionally good to go with the flow but are you following your heart or just the crowd when doing that? (Be)lieve in (you)rself – an original is worth much more than a copy. Feeling like you’re not good enough is a common phenomenon, but remember that it is you who decides that, not everyone else. You are your only limit. Be unstoppable, you’ll realise you’re brave, smarter and stronger than you think. Shine on!
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Until next time, take care!
(The columnist is a psychologist and counsellor at the Sethu Centre for Child Development and Family Guidance.)