Of burdens and black dogs

oCaptainMany years ago, I had a student that was really, really difficult.

He was unpleasant. Disruptive. Challenging. And he openly said that he did not like me. I am not going to lie: I was very happy when the semester was over!


One year later, he showed up at my class door. He wanted to tell me that, in the previous year, he had experienced a very traumatic episode. That episode left him scared and angry. He felt confused. He was hurt. And he explained that, in the process of dealing with all that pain, he had been really nasty to those that were trying to help him.


I don’t know what is made of him, now. You see, this happened long before LinkedIn or Twitter, and I completely lost contact with him. But I never forgot him, for he taught me a very important lesson: that the person standing in front of me – student, colleague, random stranger in the street… – may be carrying a very heavy burden, or struggling with the black dog named depression.


Most of the time, I will not be aware of that burden, and I won’t be able to see the black dog. Or I will be unable to help despite my desperation to do so. Most of the time, the best I can do is to be compassionate.


In honour of all of those fighting their demons, and in memory of those that lost the battle, I climb on a table and say: O Captain! My Captain!


This is not a post about marketing. But it’s an important one.

Have a great day. And be compassionate.

3 thoughts on “Of burdens and black dogs

  1. That’s a move that takes courage. And a good reminder that people being mean may have nothing to do with you.
    Compassion. That’s the key.
    Thank you for this post Ana. And for standing on a table top. I’m standing right beside you.


    1. Yes, I agree that it showed a lot of courage. Also concern for other people – he could have simply moved on with his life, but he made the effort to meet me and explain what had happened.


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