Really Listen

Sometimes the bad things that happen in

Not long ago, this blog was blocked (by mistake) by a social media provider. Pretty insignificant, right? Well, yes, in one sense; I do have plenty of other ways of communicating and plenty of people who are content to listen to me face to face. Still it was no less frustrating for me, and I realized pretty quickly that it was really starting to get to me.

I could tell because pretty quickly I was firing off Tweets (I say it that way because I wasn’t thinking too much about what I was saying–and subsequently removed said Tweets in a moment of greater clarity). I talked to folks at WordPress and to the people who host my site, and everyone said everything was set up the right way.

Inexplicably, though, I had lost my voice (or at least the one I have found through this blog) and lost control of the outcome. File a ticket and we’ll get to you as soon as possible was the message. On the front end, I did what I was supposed to do, and it didn’t pan out as advertised. Frustrating.

During the month or so that I couldn’t share my blog (oh how trivial this seems and how petty I am for feeling sorry for myself at all during this time), the toughest thing was knowing that there was nothing I could do. I just sat and stewed thinking, I have something to say and no way to say it (I know–that’s not exactly 100% true, but that’s what I thought).

On most days, I feel like I’m in control of my life, but during this process, I just felt helpless.

There was nothing I could do. Literally, nothing. Zero courses of action that could be taken.

Happily, something good did come from this, though not without a little conviction on my end.

As I started to realize that my lack of control was at the root of my frustration, I began to see my situation in light of the larger range of situations people face when they lack control. A quick thought through the tough situations students work through at school left me sorry for feeling sorry for me and thoughtful about what those high school students must shoulder at such a young age.

As frustrating as my experience was, I just can’t imagine being a high school student (or younger) and being aware of my lack of control over things many assume are givens. What do I mean–givens?

Things like, “Will the lights be on when I get home?”

Things like, “Will we have food tonight?”

Things like, “My parents can help me with this homework, right?”

Things like, “Will it be safe at home tonight?”

Things like, “I wonder how I can get home from school?”

In hindsight, yes–losing my voice on this blog is insignificant. But in the middle of that loss, it felt very real (again, I realize the position I say that from, and it feels a little absurd still). But it stuck with me. It made an impact.

As a result, I’m trying to be more aware of students who may be without a voice.

Over the next week, I’m committed to finding students who need to be heard, who need to know that all of life isn’t as uncontrolled as pockets of their lives may currently be. I challenge you to do the same. Do your best to find a few students with whom you have not connected yet and listen, really listen, to what they say to you. Your attention matters more than you know.

Let’s work together to really hear people and help make sure all voices are heard.

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