There are classes in college you take that make you feel a little more human when you exit the last day of class. These are the classes I want to take for the rest of my life, the ones that make you hungry for the Professor to keep talking, to keep feeding you with information. Professor’s can teach you math, science, and history, but where are the classes that teach us how to be human? To be lovers? To be better friends? To communicate?
On the first day of one of my classes my Professor tells everyone to stand up and shake the hands of everyone around us. He tells us to “introduce ourselves with something we don’t normally say,” to show people around us something about ourselves we may keep hidden. I normally introduce myself with one aspect of myself, so, following his directions, I extended my hand, said my name, and claimed myself to be a writer. It was refreshing to walk into a class and meet strangers, to shake hands and feel a little less lonely on the first day. Day two we walked into class and I chose a seat closer to the front, wanting to be noticed by the Professor and because I spotted a friend in the second row. As class started our Professor stood up and told us to hug everyone around us. At first we all stood there, confused. He is kidding right? We are supposed to hug all the strangers around us? As he looked around at all the confused and reluctant faces, our Professor told us that this was not a joke and that as part of the class we need to hug everyone around us.
Standing up in unisons, arms extended, strangers amongst strangers, we all embraced one another, submerging the loneliness we felt for a little while. It was amazing, to meet these people I had never seen before, and to hug them. Scientifically speaking, humans need 8-12 hugs a day. A DAY. I can look back on the past week and see that I received less then 12 hugs in 7 days. Sad isn’t it? For a generation fixated on sexual experiences, we suck at being vulnerable and human. After hugging all the classmates around me I felt it was easier for me to breathe, I was relaxed, and I was smiling. I looked around at the people sitting next to me and saw they too, were smiling. This feeling was contagious, yet most of us had not felt this for a long time.
After we all sat down our Professor asked us why we thought he made us do this? To embarrass us someone stated. To be healthy another said. And then from a small voice in the back, someone said because it releases drugs in our brain that make us feel good. Crazy right? That we are actually supposed to feel this way all the time, yet we walk around isolating ourselves in our social media, technology, and fear of talking to someone we don’t know. I am guilty of this you see, of being fearful of someone who is uninterested in talking to me, or of the unknown that comes with talking to a stranger. I should be embracing this fear, when instead I stick to looking down at my phone screen, placing my relationships in the hands of technology.
The name of the class I have been describing is “Healthful Living.” It is the only class thus far I have taken that has begun to teach me how to living a healthy life as a human. I am 22. I have been tested on mathematics, science, history, english, psychology, and religion, but where were the tests and classes on living? The answer, no where. We are made to believe that by living we are learning, which is true, but not all of us will get things right every time, well actually none of us will. As 20 year olds we need examples, we need advice, and we need lessons, because to be honest we are too afraid to ask for help. In the past 4 classes I have taken, my view on life has changed drastically. 4 hours, that is all it took.
Imagine if I had begun my education career with a class such as this, a class on how to be a healthy human being mentally, physically, relationship wise, emotionally, and psychologically? Who would I be? I cannot answer that question, but what I can do is be thankful that the viewpoints I have had on everything thus far have been dramatically altered. I can be thankful that for the first time in my life I know what cognitive dissonance is and its consequences. I can be thankful that for the first time in my life, someone is finally teaching me how to be human.