Smithson Advises Sharing Struggles

Instructor in Science Garrett Smithson spoke in chapel about life’s challenges and the importance of confiding in trusted family members, teachers and coaches, and friends. He reported the results of an anonymous survey he conducted among faculty and staff to illustrate how everyone has encountered problems.
Then he detailed the ups and downs of his own youth, which included struggles with family situations, school, depression, and bullying. He also told of some triumphs: “In high school I was captain of the wrestling team, improved my grades to straight A’s, got a great group of friends, earned Eagle Scout, developed my religious faith, and fell in love with my future wife.” College brought additional pressures as he tried to balance studies, work, and family turmoil.

Looking back on his experiences, he sees how sharing personal difficulties with others would have helped him better navigate those times, and he encouraged students to reach out.

“The faculty and staff want you to know that we have high expectations, but that does not mean we have no sympathy or empathy for your reality. We know you’re tough, we know you’re capable, we know you struggle. We only ask that you let us help you carry that burden from time to time. We only ask that you’re willing to help and be there for one another.”

He cautioned the boys to refrain from making jokes or snide comments, out of their own discomfort, when a fellow student speaks of his challenges. “Your comment may be the reason someone you care about doesn’t share something deeply painful.”

He concluded: “Take care of yourselves and each other.”