Have you ever had a question that you wanted to ask a counselor but felt awkward asking it in person? This month, students had the chance to ask their questions anonymously. Common questions, as well as ones submitted by students through a survey (look to find it in the January Tatler poll!), were answered by Ms. Lee and Ms. Sanchez for Tatler’s new counselor advice column.
Disclaimer: While each response includes specific information to the question we were given, please remember that counselors are more than happy to talk to you in person about anything that is on your mind. We will not turn a student away for wanting to talk to a counselor.
Is feeling sad sometimes okay? Or wanting to spend time alone apart from the craze of friends?
The short answer is yes, absolutely. Sadness is a primary emotion, meaning that our brains and bodies are hardwired to feel sad sometimes. Sadness that is manageable (not extremely overwhelming), temporary (not lasting for days and days on end), and responsive to support (things you do to take care of yourself help at least a little) isn’t anything to be concerned about.
Wanting to spend time alone is also completely natural. People vary a lot in how much time they want to spend alone or around others, so if you tend to go one way or the other, or you typically love being around people but are craving some alone time, that makes a lot of sense.
If you have concerns about sadness or not spending time with friends, know that you can always reach out to a counselor, trusted adult, or close friend.
Looking into the college process has gotten me feeling pretty bad about my life and accomplishments. Any strategies for continuing to live and love my own life while having to consider what someone else might interpret from it?
First of all, you are not the only person (student or adult) at Lakeside who has felt this way about the college process. Many people find the college process, and the feeling of being evaluated, very stressful.
It can be helpful during times like the college process to remind yourself of what is really, really important to you – your values – and try to live your life in a way that honors those things. Values are not goals – you can’t achieve values. Values are like a compass – they help us make choices based on the directions in which we want our lives to go. By defining and exploring your values, this helps you think about who you want to be, what is important to you, and what you want your life to be about – above and beyond what college you want to go to. Remembering these things during tough times will remind you that you are a wonderful and unique person no matter how your college process goes. Think about times when you’ve really loved your life and ask yourself what you were doing in those times. If there are activities that you were doing during those times (e.g., running, journaling) or favorite self-care strategies you have, make sure you make time to do them now.
And, of course, consider talking to others around you. Close people in your life can remind you that the college process does not define who you are. When you have a college counselor, they can also remind you of this – they want to support you as you make these big, tough decisions about your next steps.
How do you know when you should talk to a counselor?
This answer varies depending on the student! Some students know that they should talk to a counselor because a close friend, teacher, or family member has suggested they check-in with a counselor to discuss interpersonal, academic, or mental health related concerns. Other students know they should talk to a counselor because they find themselves wanting extra support or guidance in navigating and problem-solving their worries. Speaking with a counselor is a great resource for students who want to process their concerns out loud but do not feel comfortable disclosing confidential information to their peers or other adults in their lives.
How do you feel about a lot of the Lakeside body being uncomfortable going to the counselors?
We understand where people are coming from. In fact, when I was in high school, I (Ms. Sanchez) refused to go to the counselor when a teacher referred me. There are many reasons students may feel uncomfortable going to a counselor, or specifically going to one at school, and we work hard to be sensitive to them when we meet with people. We do not get personally upset when students don’t want to talk to us. What we want most is to support students’ health and wellbeing needs and we are glad when we get opportunities to work directly with students on this.
It is also true that far more students meet with the counselors than Lakeside students realize. We wish people understood how busy we are talking to students all day, because that could help destigmatize speaking with a counselor.
How much stress is normal?
Feelings of stress and anxiety are often appropriate responses to life’s difficulties (e.g. experiencing pressure to meet a deadline or earn a desired grade on an assignment). The goal of counseling is not to get rid of stress, but instead to learn and implement various coping strategies to better manage feelings of stress, anxiety, and other negative symptoms when the occur. Stress is no longer “normal” when it chronically interferes with everyday routines (e.g. interfering with sleep hygiene, or interfering with one’s ability to maintain friendships and personal well-being). If a person experiences frequent, high levels of stress for a long period of time, that person may become vulnerable to physical illnesses or clinical anxiety or depression disorders.
Ngl, I’m still confused on what stds are transmitted orally.
Many STDs can be transmitted through oral sex. While people often believe that oral sex has less risk for transmitting STDs, safe sex practice is just as important with oral sex as with any type of sexual activity. STDs that can be transmitted orally include, but are not limited to, chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, herpes, HPV, and HIV. In order to protect against the oral transmission of STDs, safe sex practice includes use of non-lubricated latex condoms or dental dams, although there is always some risk of STD transmission even when using protection.
As always, if you have any questions for the counselors or just want to talk feel free to stop by their offices in St. Nicks. As they like to say, no student will ever be turned away for wanting to chat with them.