Frankly Speaking – 5/19/14

Dear Frank,

I was academically dismissed from the college I was attending and it hit me really hard – to the point that I ended up taking about a year off from school in general. This past October I decided to get back on the horse and try to boost my GPA so I could apply for readmission. Now that I have submitted my application I am starting to feel like I might not be able to do this after what happened last time. Do you have any advice on this type of situation?

First of all, I want to congratulate you for “getting back on the horse.” I use the same mantra for the patients I work with, the athletes I coach, and as a general reminder for both myself and others: Not succeeding is not failure, quitting is. As long as you are still trying, then you have not failed and success is still attainable.

There is likely a reason (or multiple smaller reasons) why you were not successful on your first go around. Despite what many people begin to think about themselves, it probably has absolutely nothing to do with your intellectual ability. Colleges do their due diligence when it comes to who they accept. It is in their best interest to accept those that they believe will be successful at their school. That you were accepted and enrolled the first time indicates that you demonstrated the necessary abilities.

However, not everyone experiences success right away, whether that be in college, a new job, or just about anything else you can imagine. The key is figuring out what factors prevented you from being as successful as you could have been the first time. Without proper reflection on what did not work the first time and why, you are setting yourself up to repeat the same mistakes.

There are many differences between high school and college and sometimes it takes students some time to adapt to those. For example, the amount of work and amount of studying required can change drastically from high school to college. You’re also now thrust into a very independent environment, likely for the first time, and must navigate academics in addition to roommates, the social scene, extracurricular activities, potentially being away from home for the first time, among many other things. These are a lot of things, all very important, to have to learn how to navigate all at once.

Understand that college is a learning process. Yes you will learn content in your classes, but it also is an opportunity to push yourself. To expand beyond who you were, what you knew, and what you used to be able to do. Receiving some poor grades the first time around is likely no reflection on your intellectual abilities. Rather it may serve as a (perhaps not-so-gentle-) reminder that you have many more things to be responsible for and there is a learning curve associated with that.

Also recognize that, although it is an environment in which opportunities present themselves to learn how to be independent, this does NOT mean you must learn how to do it on your own. Seek out support from others, including the services available through the school in addition to friends and family. Just as you are doing now, continue to ask others for advice as specific situations arise. Don’t expect to know every answer. The trick is more about being able to ask for help. My guess is, the first time around when you felt things beginning to slip, you kept it more to yourself rather than ask for help from others. Personally, I can remember calling up my mother the first weekend I was ever away at college, standing in front of the washing machine and asking her, “Okay, how do I do this laundry thing?” Sometimes, the difference between failure and success is one tiny piece of information.

Some of the most successful athletes have not made every team they ever tried out for. Some of the most successful businessmen and women were not a success at their first business venture. Sometimes, I truly believe, being successful the first time you try something is more about luck than skill. Sticking with something in the face of adversity, learning from your mistakes, and showing improvement each time around: THAT is success.

 

“Frankly Speaking” is a weekly segment on this blog that provides an opportunity for my readers to ask questions aimed at better understanding themselves, others, or their relationship with others. Each week I will select some of those questions to answer here. As you can see, the askers of those questions remain anonymous.

To submit a potential question for future installments, the only thing that I ask is that you first become a fan of my Facebook page. “Like” my page, and then send me a private message with your question(s). Until next week!

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Frankly Speaking – 5/12/14

Dear Frank,

There is this girl I was friends with in high school and for a while after. We were really close friends, but we had a huge blowout. We have e-mailed back and forth some since, but the friendship just doesn’t seem to be there anymore; I really don’t want anything to do with her anymore. Should I just stop answering the e-mails and hope she takes the hint or tell her straight out?

I am always a fan of being clear with someone upfront and then using the ignore method if that happens to not work out. In this situation, it sounds like there is a past wound that may not have healed for you and you would rather just move on. If that is the case, then why not just say so?

In many instances, we often think others are privy to the same information that we have, feel the same way that we do, or interpret things with the same slant as us. As I have written about before (and I can’t stress enough), this is almost NEVER the case. My bet is that if I asked your “friend” her interpretation of the relationship between you two, I would get a response that varies widely from your own.

Perhaps she is simply trying to deal with your blowout in a different way: trying to move on, put it in the rearview mirror. Maybe act like it didn’t happen. Maybe she desperately wants back the close relationship that you two once had and is going about it the only way she knows how: by continuing to communicate. It’s possible she, too, feels the lack of substance. Or maybe she is completely on the same page and feels that you two are merely artificially extending your relationship when neither of you really want to.

There is nothing wrong with saying, “Look, I just don’t think our relationship has been the same since XYZ happened,” and offer what you think you should do about that. In this case, it might be proposing that you go your separate ways. It need not be a lengthy conversation. It might not be a conversation at all. It might just be a simple statement. No blame need be placed. No fingers pointed. Just your feelings about the situation and be done with it.

Sharing your thoughts and feelings also gives one final chance for reparation. The relationship you have right now might not seem worth the effort, but perhaps the relationship you once had was. What if all it took was the simple statement above for a more honest and open sharing to occur? If this is truly not your desire, then you needn’t pursue it. Either way, it will help provide more closure for both of you.

As I previously alluded to, ignoring works in one of two instances: 1) After you have already made a very clear statement about your intention or your desire and the other person is not acting in accordance, or 2) when there really is no identifiable reason for your decision. In the latter instance, you may have naturally drifted apart after some shared experience ended (school, a job, etc.). In that case, it is perfectly acceptable to minimize or cut contact and simply move on.

If there is a reason, though, as there seems to be here, then share it. If nothing else, it is likely to reduce or eliminate those frantic, “Why haven’t I heard from you?!” e-mails that you otherwise might get with increasing frequency. Don’t leave someone on the hook.

“Frankly Speaking” is a weekly segment on this blog that provides an opportunity for my readers to ask questions aimed at better understanding themselves, others, or their relationship with others. Each week I will select some of those questions to answer here. As you can see, the askers of those questions remain anonymous.

To submit a potential question for future installments, the only thing that I ask is that you first become a fan of my Facebook page. “Like” my page, and then send me a private message with your question(s). Until next week!

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Frankly Speaking – 5/5/14

Dear Frank,

A friend of mine’s brother recently attempted suicide. This is not his first attempt, and my friend is understandably very upset. Is there anything that I could tell her that would help her be able to help her brother?

Suicide is, for obvious reasons, a very serious matter and professional intervention would seem necessary. If he will not seek treatment voluntarily, most (if not all, I believe) states allow for involuntary commitment when a person poses a threat to him- or herself. These may be options that are sought to help her brother.

Here is the harsh truth about suicide: it is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. The afflicted individual, however, does not see his or her situation as temporary. He sees no other way out. Hope no longer exists for a better tomorrow. As outsiders, we can often see potential that the troubled person does not. We can see how things can get better. We see the hope that they don’t.

Suicide is also a very selfish act. This may not sit well with some to hear, but the fact remains: an individual who commits suicide often does so to escape the pain that they are experiencing. In doing so, however, pain is inflicted upon the loved ones left behind.

Both suicide and attempted suicide are bound to invoke similar feelings in loved ones, although obviously there will be some great relief accompanied by an attempt over a completion. In both circumstances though, loved ones are often left with their own guilt. That they “should” have seen something coming, that they “should” have been more involved with the individual, and that they “should” have helped more.

Help your friend to realize that she does have an opportunity to point her brother in the right direction and get him the professional help it sounds like he needs. Help her to understand that she is not responsible for his actions. It is not her fault. It is no one’s fault.  Help her to feel supported by you. Make sure your friend knows that YOU recognize that she is doing everything she can do to help, because I promise she will not believe it on her own.

We are always left thinking we could have done more.

By being supportive, you can actually model for your friend how to show support for her brother. Your friend can pass along encouragement that there are still things worth fighting for and that everything that can be done will be done to help.

Because everyone needs someone to fight for them when they temporarily feel unable to fight for themselves.

“Frankly Speaking” is a weekly segment on this blog that provides an opportunity for my readers to ask questions aimed at better understanding themselves, others, or their relationship with others. Each week I will select some of those questions to answer here. As you can see, the askers of those questions remain anonymous.

To submit a potential question for future installments, the only thing that I ask is that you first become a fan of my Facebook page. “Like” my page, and then send me a private message with your question(s). Until next week!

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