I love consulting at the Writing Center. I have from the first day—which I still remember, very clearly. I came home and told my husband about two appointments I had that day and cried, because I felt so lucky and inspired and touched by the students who shared their stories with me. As we do things over time we settle into the familiar. Things still excite us or interest or engage us, but they take on the flavor of the more routine, more expected, more every day.
Which means that some days, I come in to work in the wrong frame of mind. I come in tired from a 5:30 a.m. wake-up, from an hour drive through grey and brown winter on farmland not covered in snow (listen, I know y’all hate snow, but the brown, not-snowed-on land is about ten thousand times worse for me). I come in wearing the weight of studies I’m grappling to understand, responses to my own courses I can’t seem to draft no matter how long I stare at a computer screen. I come in feeling the minutes ticking and ticking by on work I haven’t yet completed. My neck is sore from a lumpy pillow and my back hurts from that hug my seven year old gave me that ended in his sudden decision to jump on me. I have chronic headaches, which leave me grumpy and out of sorts.
Basically, I come in feeling everything but prepared to work with students. And I come in forgetting that all the weariness and aching my body carries in—and all of my worries—are things students carry in to our sessions too.
One of the best things about our jobs is that we get the chance to work one on one with students. This means that I get to sit across from one person and connect. In our jobs, we have the opportunity to create moments with students in ways we don’t get to in classrooms. Which is not a value judgement; both have their plusses. But I definitely know I’m very lucky in the positives my job affords me.
When both a client and I experience an aha! moment in a text we’ve been working on, moments when students trust us with their worries—either in drafts or outlines or papers or revisions—feel like gifts. They feel like starting the day right, or like restarting a day that got off on the wrong foot. Sometimes we have consultations where everything clicks, where it’s not just good, but it’s great. When the differences made on both sides of the paper seem to matter.
Coming in to sessions wearing my grumpy, overtaxed exhaustion certainly makes getting to those great moments harder, which means that sometimes, even consultants need to take a moment, take a breath, and remind themselves why we are here. Because when we do, great things happen.