It is generally said that late teenage and early twenties are the hardest times for everyone, all those worries, tensions and headaches perpetuated by the fog of future and mists of past; that rule all of these years of ours. But if someone is guided through this time nicely and wisely, a successful person is formed and that’s where a counsellor like you comes in.
So today Khas Interview team of College Ki Knowledge is in conversation with Riddhima Shokeen, the student’s counsellor of SRCC.
INTERVIEWER: Tell something about yourself. How did your journey from a student to a counsellor take place?
Basically, I used to be very bad at studies in school. I used to hate studies, literally throw my books away and my parents were really worried about this. But with time I scored well in 10th, then 11th and finally I decided to take up psychology. I had psychology in 11th and 12th. That was the only subject which interested me the most out of all the subjects. Then I scored really well in 12th, and consequently I thought that I can actually pursue psychology as a career. Following that, I went to JMC to pursue BA in Psychology Honours. But I was still not sure about counselling because psychology contains many other fields too; HR, Clinical psychology and Counselling. I thought I could do HR, I interned for a while but that did not interest me much. I knew I cannot work with patients and in a hospital setting so I did not take up clinical psychology. Lastly, counselling interested me, I had that in me that I can help and most importantly, I can listen to people. Counselling is basically listening to people and not just prescribing them medicines, but having a conversation with them, making them realize what actually the problem is and then guiding them to find out a solution to their problems.
Soon after, I went to Scotland pursuing MSc. in Counselling Studies from University of Edinburgh. It was there that I thought of pursuing psychology as a career. Going abroad changed my perception for counselling completely. There is a myth here that if you are mentally challenged, only then you need a counsellor; but psychiatrists and counsellors are totally different. A psychiatrist prescribes medicines whereas a counsellor listens to the problems and guides people. Nowadays, everyone needs a listening ear because there are some problems which cannot be shared with parents, friends or teachers so you need a third person, who can listen to you without judging you. This made me think that I should pursue counselling as a career.
INTERVIEWER: How did coming to SRCC work out?
I would consider myself very lucky because it is this particular year that the management of SRCC thought of appointing a student’s counsellor. I was one the eight people who came to give the interviews and I was the 2nd one to walk in. After two-three days, I got a call that you have been selected for student counsellor’s post at SRCC. That was an amazing news for me!
INTERVIEWER: What according to you is the need of the counsellor for a student? Or what is the role of a counsellor in a student’s life?
Like I have already mentioned before, “everyone needs an Empathetic ear “. Sometimes there are family problems, or probably peer group problems. If they go to their parents in this regard, they would probably be told to simply stay away from that group or child. Sometimes parents, being protective, don’t see the things other way round. So, you need a third person, who is not going to judge you or who doesn’t know who all friends you have or who you are talking about in particular. So, you are comfortable talking to that third person. That is why I feel that these days a child needs a counsellor.
INTERVIEWER: What do you think are the circumstances when a student should come and see you or any counsellor for that matter?
It depends from student to student. For some students a particular step may not be drastic but for some it may be.
College students are mature enough and they know what is right and what is wrong but you just need that push for you to figure out what is actually right and what is the reality. In fact, I just had a student who came up with a relationship problem. I spoke to him and he said that ‘I know that this is right and this is wrong but I just needed that push’ to in a way reassure that he is not going on the wrong way.
So, the student himself has to decide the right time!
There is, in fact, no right or wrong time, you can come up to me whenever you feel like.
INTERVIEWER: People love to talk to someone. But they feel shy visiting a counsellor. So, what do you think can be done to motivate them and familiarise them with this concept of counselling?
I’ll talk about my first student, for example. He came up with an academic problem, that he is not good enough. I told him, “You are sitting in SRCC. Give me one reason why you are not good enough.” He could not come up with even a single reason. Sometimes you lack confidence; sometimes you are overconfident – you need to maintain a balance. I told him, when you get a negative thought, sit down, write down pointers why you are getting that kind of negative thought and why you need to think positive. I told him to do that with every thought that came to his mind – why you can do it, why you can’t do it. He always came up with more points for why he can. That, in itself, helped. He came up to me next week and said, ‘Ma’am, I actually was wrong. When I sat and thought of it properly, I could actually think of a lot of positive points. I just need to work towards them.” We have this human nature of just sitting and thinking up negative thoughts.
INTERVIEWER: In your whole life, what has been one thing that has touched your heart the most?
There have been two such instances. One is related to my own confidence. I used to be like, ‘ I cannot do this’ . Some people know what they want to do in life, but for me it was ever-changing; I wanted to become an actor, and the next moment I wanted to become an airhostess. But when I flew for the first time, I realized I hated flying. So that was that. Stuff like that.
Also, I used to be really bad at studies. My parents used to always be scolding me for that. Back in school, everyone had their own complexes. I had my fair share of them too. I used to be chubby and all these girls were so thin. My comfort zone was to stay with the guys in the group, and not the girls. Everyone goes through it, it’s natural.
In 12th standard, I was going through this not-so-serious relationship. I was in Arts and my boyfriend was in Commerce. He finished his Boards, and then said, “No, I can’t do this.” It wasn’t a serious relationship, but I still had 4 of my boards left. It was a make it or break it situation for me. My mom was travelling because of work, and I didn’t know what to do. I knew I had to study, but I just couldn’t. I cried hard once or twice, but then decided it couldn’t go on this way. It was my Boards, and I had to do well – it would decide the rest of my life. I didn’t want to join any random college, but I never thought I could get into DU. I studied like anything and scored 95%. My whole family and friend circle was touched saying that they thought I had gone through such a bad break-up, but had still done so well. That was one instance that changed me. After that, I focused on studies, did well in college, and got a distinction.
The second instance is more recent. I was seeing a guy for four years but he always took me for granted. I took it for a while. Everyone used to tell me that you look good together, but he doesn’t treat you properly, that you can’t be responsible for everything. The reason I can share this so openly is because I just had a student who came up with a similar case and I could help him because we could relate to it. Once you do psychology, everything, or every disorder for that matter, you feel that you have it. I feel I have OCD – I keep washing my hands. Everyone has something, and when you are studying it, you feel you have it all. I studied psychological disorders in my 12th, and I was always like ‘Mom you have this, Dad you have this, and this one I have’. So yeah, it is very interesting.
Anyway, that happened and I took a stand that I can’t do this anymore. I am not in that relationship anymore, and I am very happy. Many people tell me that we are proud of you and are glad to see you being so independent. These are the two incidents in my life that completely changed me. Also I would like to say, Never be embarrassed by your past… It makes you what you are today…
INTERVIEWER: What message would you like to give to the students? Also, what is your mantra of happiness?
For the students, my message would be – please come! Please come, I am here for you and don’t have anything to do half of the time. That myth of going to a counsellor meaning something is wrong with you is something that needs to be done away with. People say that if you are depressed, go to a Counsellor. No, it is very different. If you are depressed, it is something severe and you need to go to a Psychiatrist. Just being sad is not depression. People need to come out of that thinking zone. I would tell the students that whatever it is – you want to talk about something happening, come to me there and then; if there is something you just want to share, just come and talk. The college has provided you an excellent opportunity. Make use of it.
INTERVIEWER: Thank you, ma’am. It was really a wonderful experience to talk to you.
It was a nice to talk to you too.
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