The saying goes that you should never meet your heroes. I would agree with this saying if my heroes happened to be multi-million-dollar artists, but they are not. My heroes are my professors, the people who never cease to amaze me in class.My dumbfounded look is not because I am confused about the material. It’s because I am awed by their carefully orchestrated performances.
I cannot help but be mesmerized by the way they pace the room as they elaborately explain the course material. If I pay close enough attention, I can see the intelligence seeping out of their pores, giving them a god-like glow.
These luminescent creatures that roam the campus have the power to make everything sound compelling. I sometimes feel that even if they were giving me instructions on how to make a sandwich, I would still stand up at the end of the class and give them a standing ovation (I swear that I don’t actually do this in classes, but in my head I’m throwing roses. Seriously. Keep reading for more outrageous forms of reverence.)
It is always thrilling to get an email from my professors. I think about every email as evidence that they acknowledge my existence. Sure, everyone else in the class might get the same emails, but I like to pretend that when compiling the email list, the professor remembered that I am in their class. And if you have ever met your hero, you might know that getting acknowledged is a big step.
But how will I ever be able to show my professor how profoundly inspired I am by their work? Of course I could devote my time and effort to getting the best grade in the class, but so is everyone else (probably for some different, mundane reason, like their GPAs.) Or I could visit the professor’s office hours to get to know them, but is it weird if I start off the conversation by asking for a bunch of used tissues so I can build a shrine?
Perhaps at the end of the semester, I can gift the professor a travel mug stamped with “Best Professor,” but that won’t suffice either. It just doesn’t get the message across, and I think “OMG YOU’RE MY HERO. I LOVE YOU! I’LL NAME MY FIRST CHILD AFTER YOU” is too long to be on a travel mug. So, how can I let my professors know that they are downright inspirational?
Thankfully, Vassar makes all students fill out teacher evaluations at the end of every semester. Unfortunately, we usually do not have enough space to profess our love to our professors in these wide-ruled, eight by 11 inch pieces of paper that constrict what you can say. And I am guessing professors would like actual constructive criticism as opposed to a student’s mediocre version of one of Shakespeare’s sonnets. Also, leaving a very thoughtful and ravishing 350-character review on RateMyProfessor does not guarantee that the beloved professor will actually read it.
You see, I have thought about this quite a lot, and I always end at the same conclusion. I really want a hug from my professors. Just one. That is it. Is that too much to ask? I think that with a good, tight hug I will at last be able to really tell them how much they mean to me. You know what I am talking about.
Just think about all those times you have visited their office hours in desperation, presenting questions that prove nearly impossible to answer. You probably spent hours trying to Google the answer, only to fail. But, just as you are about to pull out that last strand of hair left on your head, your professor explains it to you and all you want to do is hug them.
I mean, a hug, the universal sign of affection, would serve various purposes. First, it would confirm that my professors are real and not figments of my imagination. Second, a hug would be a very easy, nonverbal form of communication through which I would avoid embarrassing myself with words.
I can just imagine putting my arms around them and getting close enough to get a whiff of true genius. I imagine they smell like all things good–like peppermint, rain and soap. Maybe some of the residue of their golden glow would stick to me and with it I could achieve their level of brilliance.
Until the time comes when I get to hug all my heroes on this campus, I will continue to learn as much from my professors as possible. It’s the opportunity to see them every other day that gets me up every morning after spending an entire night finishing my readings.
I hope that everyone on this campus feels the same way about their professors. They are the best people I’ve had the privilege of meeting, and to all the first-years out there, go introduce yourself to your incredible professors during office hours!
To all my professors, past and current, if you are reading this, can you please pretend you didn’t? It might prevent any half-hug awkwardness in the future.