Written in Ink

Advice Requested

At the end of my first year of teaching, I took time that last week of classes to speak privately with each student individually. I wanted to express my opinions about their progress over the course of the year—I taught English/Language Arts—and to ask them questions about their future plans in general. This was Los Angeles and I was moving to the east coast over the summer, so this was my last opportunity to talk with them. We had all formed a bond over the course of the year, because I was so new to the field and had certainly made many mistakes, but we had also enjoyed countless educational and personal victories.

One of my students was a very bright and engaging young woman for whom I had developed a deep admiration. I knew that she had a lot of responsibilities at home, since her mother had died and she took care of many things for her father and younger siblings. We spoke about her ambitions to go to college and how much I had appreciated her active participation during the year, no matter how boring the required content had been on occasion. While many of her peers did the minimum required, she had endeavored to excel at the subject matter and that was impressive, I told her.


Here's the thing. And I hesitate to admit it, because I am embarrassed about it and have been for over a decade. She was an obese adolescent. I knew her between the ages of 16 and 17 and during that time, she went from overweight to very overweight. What I told her in that final conversation can be paraphrased this way: "I have always struggled with my weight as well. I got to the point where I had had enough and took control of it and control of my life. When you are ready, you will do the same."

She had not then, nor had she ever, discussed any issues she might have had with her appearance with me. And I have always regretted that I was imparting my own negative experiences and projecting my insecurities onto her, even though I really had no idea how she felt about herself.

So the question: I have located her on facebook. Over eleven years have passed. Do I write her a private facebook message telling her that I have thought of her and of that conversation often over the years and am deeply sorry if I caused her any harm or embarrassment at the time? She looks, by the way, amazing. The photos on facebook paint a picture of a confident and attractive young woman of 28. I am concerned that if I apologize, I will be doing it for myself and only intrude on her well-being. It's possible that she doesn't even remember the incident, although I remember when my 7th grade teacher said something negative to me about the way I looked and it remains with me to this day.

I hope that this has not offended anyone. Just looking for some advice on whether to turn back the clock—or not to.

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