The 30th of July was the International Day of Friendship.

I was catching up with my Ph.D. group of friends last week. They have all finished and have been conferred with their degrees. I would be the last one, if ever. Anyway, back to the story. We were looking back at some of the advice we all received over the years on Ph.D. journeys such as, “It’s a rollercoaster of experiences so enjoy the ride”. For those who are students and parenting at the same time, there’s an endless string of advice and cautionary tales, “enjoy every minute of being a parent because it all goes so fast”. But what if not every moment is enjoyable? What if in some of those moments, you are only barely surviving?

Sometimes survival mode is critical, and we can only appreciate how meaningful those moments are in hindsight. The moments of survival are those that get us to the better days, to thrive mode. Listening to advice is tricky. Good advice is great, but as we were reflecting on some “bad” advice we received over the years, and realized that untruths and “bad” advice can do a similar thing – they give us context and propel us into the other direction and look deep into ourselves for what our values really are. We can do hard things. Sometimes we need to siphon through the plethora of advice and decipher what would serve us. Who is giving what advice and why are they giving it? What would you do if they have an agenda that is opposed to your safety and wellbeing?

"Still, when we honestly ask ourselves which persons in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving much advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a gentle and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not-knowing, not-curing, not-healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is the friend who cares." - Henri Nouwen


Tagged in What messes with your head, Student life, stress, parent-student