Thoughts from Melanie

Melanie Loggins, Academic Adviser

Hi! Welcome to my first column. As I’m writing this, I don’t know where I’m going to go with it, exactly. Heck, I don’t even know what it’s going to be called! I just knew I wasn’t going to pass up a chance to say something every week. Details? Who needs details? We’ll figure this out as we go!

I work in the Holland Academic Success Center. That’s kind of a mouthful, isn’t it? We tend to just call it the Holland Center. It rolls off the tongue more easily than anything else we can come up with, but we know that, like “the gag” or “the blue chairs”, it’s a part of WSC culture that doesn’t make sense to an outsider. I think that’s ok, though. Every group develops its own culture and its own language. That’s how we stay connected to each other.

I’ve been thinking about connection a lot lately actually. How do we find someone to connect with? And how do we maintain that connection? And, especially, what does it do to us to feel disconnected? I don’t know about you, but I’ve been struggling with this a lot in the past few months. At first, when we went into lockdown for Covid, I just threw myself into work and I felt more connected to everyone, not less. But lately? IDK. Maybe it’s the weather? I’m tired. Are you tired? Do you feel tired for, like, no reason? Because same.

Up here in the Holland Center, our primary job is to worry about you. We worry about how you’re doing in school and then we worry about how you’re doing in general because, well, that affects how you do in school, but also, if you do this kind of work, it’s just in your nature to worry about people. And right now, oof. Some of you seem like you’re struggling. Some of you seem disconnected.

I know it’s hard right now. If you’re new to campus, you might be looking around thinking, “Um, this isn’t what I wanted from college!” And if you’re not new, you are probably missing all the normal college stuff, like parties and events and concerts and games. The campus is just so quiet now, isn’t it?? We know. We agree. Seriously, everyone I know in the “adult” side of things has commented on how quiet it is, and how much we miss seeing everything you do, and how we wish we could make it better for you. (See? Worriers, all of us.)

I’m trying to do the same thing some of you are – I’m trying to find ways to feel connected to people I love and to get to know new people even though everyone feels wary and unsure. I’m trying to play Jackbox with a friend via Zoom. I keep sending another friend every cool song I find, and I listen to every song he sends me. I’m sending, like, chapters to my bff in Wisconsin and trying to be patient when it takes her days to respond, because I need her to be patient when it takes me a long time, too. I’m trying to listen more and ask more questions. I feel like I need to make the most of every chance I get to talk to someone, to really pay attention and be present, because I feel lucky for the opportunity now.

Up here in the Holland Center, we see a lot of you trying to find ways to do the same kind of awkward and random things. And we see some of you moving slow, like the weather and the loneliness is starting to drag you down a little. We know it’s hard. I could say something annoying like, “Oh, don’t worry! It will get better!” Because we know how much it sucks to have someone tell you that, even if, deep down, we all know it’s true. It feels good to be seen sometimes, right? To have someone just acknowledge how you feel without trying to solve it?

So, I promise, I won’t try to solve anything. I won’t offer dumb advice about how to be more social and I won’t tell you to come talk to us if you’re not sure who else to talk to. And I definitely won’t tell you that lots of people are feeling the same way, that even though you feel alone, you’re not. I’ll just say that we’re here in the Holland Center, not the Academic Success Center, and, if you want, maybe grab something from the lower and hang out at the blue chairs and see if there’s someone else there who looks like they could use someone to talk to. And I’ll write every week and tell you how things look from the other side. Maybe you’ll like it? Maybe you’ll tell me I’m missing the mark? Maybe sometimes both! Like I said, I’ll figure out where I’m going on my way. I’m just glad you’re coming with me.