Screaming On the Inside

Shame, shame, I know your name

Madeline Fuerstenberg

More stories from Madeline Fuerstenberg

November 2, 2020

I suppose you can say I had a sort of breakthrough in counseling this week.

You see, I tend to be a people pleaser. I like to believe that I don’t care what others think of me, but that just isn’t true.

Because I try so hard to impress or satisfy the people around me, I tend to take on more responsibilities than I can actually handle.

My counselor put it this way: She and I both need to pay rent. We probably have to pay around the same amount. We both need to work a specific amount of hours to afford that rent. But she’s not in college. She has all day, every day, to work and make money. 

I, on the other hand, have to worry about school on top of my two jobs. So we both have similar expenses, but I’m still taking on more work than she is.

She asked me if my parents could help out financially. I told her they could, but I’d prefer not to ask that of them. She asked me why that was.

I told her that I don’t want to ask my parents for help because I like the idea that people around me think of me as an independent person. I want to be able to pay for myself and I don’t want to be a burden on my parents. I don’t want my family to think I am failing as an adult.

The more we talked about it, the more my counselor helped me understand this sense of shame I felt for being too overwhelmed and not willing to ask for help.

Because, in reality, I’m not a burden on my parents. It’s their job to care about their children. They know their limitations on what they can or cannot help me with, and I shouldn’t feel too proud to ask for their help every once and awhile. 

So I spoke to my father and he said he can chip in a little bit for rent every month — at least until next semester when I will hopefully have more time to work and less stress from my other current responsibilities.

My next step, however, felt a little bit more difficult. Now that I know I have some financial backup from my parents, I’ve decided that I need to take a step back from working so much. I’m not quitting either of my jobs, but I am hoping to pull back on my hours so I can have more free time to focus on school.

This is hard for me. I like to think of myself as a good employee. I want to give my jobs 100 percent effort and I am horrified by the notion of being a disappointment to my employers. Once again, I feel an unhealthy sense of shame for even considering working less. 

But I have been putting too much pressure on myself. I know that, and it’s time for me to start treating myself with a bit more respect. I’m not a machine that can perform flawlessly at every task. Nobody is. 

According to, low-income students who work less are more likely to excel in school, while 59 percent of students who work 15 hours or more per week tend to have a C average or lower.

I am here at UW-Eau Claire to obtain a higher education. I am paying thousands of dollars for that education. If I’m so busy stressing about work that my grades are being negatively impacted, then it’s almost like there’s no point for me to attend school at all.

That’s my overarching point. Don’t let shame or pride get in the way of your wellbeing. There’s nothing wrong with asking for help. We all need help in one form or another, whether that help is financial or emotional. I know I’m not alone in this.

I’m not the only one screaming on the inside. And I hope you’re all getting the support you need, too.

Fuerstenberg can be reached at [email protected].