This is what my drama teacher said to me in high school. I often had teachers give me unique feedback.
“Thanks,” I said. She continued “Your face and structure would be really helpful in old times when men acted as women onstage.” She was complimenting me and I took it as one.
Why am I sharing this now? At the time a teenage boy doesn’t want to hear he could be a pretty girl. You roll with the punches in life and thank people who have good intentions towards you. You don’t always receive feedback that you want to hear, but often it is feedback you need to hear. This will be more clear in a moment.
One of the feedback I didn’t want to hear came from a teacher that I considered a mentor in 9th grade. She was so wise and kind and I respected and admired her character. She had such a good sense of humor and she seemed to appreciate me as a person. She was an older female who was single and this was a completely innocent relationship. All of my mentors growing up were innocent and only had good intentions toward me.
I spoke with her before class and since she was my first class/homeroom I could go to school and then go talk to her while she prepared for the day. One time I mentioned that I felt that I wasn’t doing enough to help my classmates and she said “Sometimes you only have to be there and who you are and that is enough.” That didn’t make sense to me. I wanted her to tell me to try harder or do more, but one of my problems in life is sometimes doing too much and she knew that.
As I continued to grow up I applied her advice. I was there with people, often not saying anything or doing anything but being supportive and letting them find their way. I truly believe we help people most not when we try to logically help them, but when we are there and just listening and that is why I have said that so often here. It has shown me repeatedly with examples of people who figured it out on their own and only needed a slight nudge with a thoughtful question. I am not a therapist, but a friend can heal who cares.
The teacher who gave me this compliment changed to another school system the next year and I continued to do drama and get unique feedback. However, that is another story.