Pulling out a throwaway for this. Even though the outcome is something I’m proud of, I don’t think most people knew how bad it really got for me.
So here’s me somewhere in the 2nd year of my degree. Things are ok, more or less. I’m doing pretty well in class, but between having almost no social circle among my peers (the program, or more specifically the group whose schedule lined up with mine at the time, was very clique-y) and being stuck in a soul-crushing job hunt that was killing my self-esteem (like just looking for entry level retail or similar and not managing to land interviews), I kinda felt dead inside, burnt out on things I used to enjoy due to the negativity seeping into other areas of my life, and just plain aimless more often than not. The few interviews I did get ended in failure. I felt awful, like I was just a number and wasn’t personable enough to get anywhere meaningful. I’m on the introverted side and every interview was like sitting on thumbtacks, putting on a fake act for half an hour or more only to hear a rejection at best. Usually just getting left hanging indefinitely and sinking further into the pit of hating myself.
One day I’m scrolling through my department’s social media page and I see a post by a first semester student. Guy in his 40’s or 50’s, super interested in learning the material but struggling in the tech/computer side of things and looking for a tutor. I figure why not reach out? I get his contact info, we hit it off, and we schedule a tutoring session in the campus lab the next week.
It goes great. We schedule more tutoring sessions and become good friends. Other students who are dealing with the same kinds of issues take notice or hear by word of mouth and inquire about my services. By the following semester I’m making a little more money than I’d be making working retail, and even more importantly I feel valued while doing work I enjoy. I am constantly thanked for my help, I have even received thank you notes from some of them that made me cry. I get so proud when my pupils show me something they developed or worked out how to do all on their own thanks to things I taught them. Things get brighter. I became more socially active in general and made genuine friends not just among my group of clients, but also more among my other peers than I had previously at the time (and later into my degree, the clique-y ones all faded out anyway). I feel more involved in my department’s community, and I feel great helping people work through and overcome things that might have otherwise been a barrier to them pursuing a subject they really enjoy.
Honestly I hope to be able to continue doing this for as long as it’s feasible for me to do so, hopefully at least for the remaining time I’m in school. The whole experience has added so much to my life and I feel very fortunate that things came to be when they did.