Saturday, November 08, 2008

The cosmic forces of the universe have thrown something new my way again. Life has been good, albeit busy; but yesterday was a cause for some concern.

Yesterday was like any other day. I woke up early and I went to work as usual. I conversed with faculty and friends and got my work done. The highlight of my day was my haircut appointment, which was in the early afternoon. I got there on time and, as usual, I shared random stories with my stylist.

My stylist usually asks about some of the more random things that have happened in my short teaching career. Ever since I told her about the student who wanted to bring a gun on campus as a visual aid, she has had a good-natured curiosity about how students are behaving at college. Often times she asks out of concern for me. After all, some of the student situations have been strange and I think she simply wants to make sure I am doing well.

This time I told my stylist about a strange student I had last semester. This student was an awkward and anxious young woman who e-mailed me incessantly. The problem was that she also found my personal e-mail address (which most of you know) and instant-messaged me once. The instant-messaging incident was strange, not because she found my personal e-mail address, but because she made me feel uncomfortable. It totally violated the student-teacher boundary and I let her know that. I soon blocked her from instant-messaging me and thought nothing of it thereafter. Although, as I noted to my stylist, she was still a bit strange with the e-mails until the semester was over.

Make that "strange with the e-mails" up to the present.

Yesterday night, around 5:30, I received an e-mail from said student with the title "An Formal Apology." I was uncertain, but I soon clicked it open. The e-mail basically read as an apology from a jilted and somewhat deranged individual. In it, my former student told me that there were things I needed to know about her before I "wrote her off as a basket case". She then went on to detail that she felt I had "developed a soft spot" for her and other women with sensitive body issues and eating disorders, and that she "felt drawn to me" because of it. Ultimately, though, she felt like she needed to apologize because she "needed to relieve the tension from her conscience" . She concluded by telling me that she had withdrawn from the college to seek rehabilitation and a less disordered perspective and wanted to apologize for making me feel awkward only because she felt that I was a kindred spirit.

Suffice to say, I was freaked out. It seemed beyond coincidence that I had gotten the e-mail the same day I had mentioned her to my stylist. In my state of shock, I immediately called a good professor of mine and talked to her about the issue. I read her the e-mail and listened to her feedback. She told me, in a jocular manner, that what I went through was basically a rite of passage for all teachers, instructors and professors. She detailed some of the weird experiences she had dealt with and reassured me that this was similar. In particular, she told me not to reply to this student because she felt that this student was "grasping for straws" because she wanted a renewed connection with me since she had not heard from me in months. I appreciated my professor's advice and I heeded it with great concern.

Perhaps too much, though. In light of the e-mail, I decided to remove my MySpace account, privatize my blog, twitter, and facebook (to the extreme), and archive all of the e-mails from this student with the label "Odd Student Issues." I know it is a bit extreme, especially since the e-mail really was not stalker-ish, but I wanted to be safe. I don't want this student to find me, to follow me, or to try and get to know me. Removing or hiding my presence from the places she could find me makes me feel better. It makes me feel further removed from her, and I need that to feel secure. I've had some weird instances in the past and I simply do not want to have to similar instances again. Therefore, "privatized" is the modus operandi from here on out, and I'm more than fine with it. Hopefully you are fine with it too.


bardot said...

whoa- that is a creepy coincidence! it sucks having to feel and react this way. but it's better to be safe than sorry.

Thister said... was creepy and strange. I'm not going to reply to her and I don't want her to be able to find me in any way. XD

Bree said...

Really does make me wonder if I should take my blog off the listings as well...

Thister said...

Maybe. Although, I doubt you have anything to worry about unless you have a verifiable stalker or a creeper. Isn't your blog basically hidden due to your pseudonym? I wouldn't worry about it too much.

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