My job is really rewarding, and I love what I do. I get to work with high school students at one of the most important times of their young adulthood and make a difference by helping them with the college process. I fell in love with helping students understand all of the integral parts of applying to college, but along the way, I also fell in love with helping students understand that they matter. I get to be a safe space for students to process their thoughts and feelings about life or themselves, and that very thing happened to me just last week.
So, I primarily work with high school seniors throughout the year, and we start working with juniors during the second half of their 11th-grade year. As the school year just started, our focus is on the seniors right now. However, a junior walked into our classroom during lunch last week and asked if someone could explain the college process to her.
She said she was so stressed out and confused about everything and no one else knew how to help her. As I was already swamped with appointments during lunch, I smiled and told her that I’d love to help and could make time for her after school when I didn’t have any scheduled appointments. When the bell rang to dismiss students from school, she walked in shortly after. What started as a conversation about SAT scores and scholarships turned into an hour-and-a-half conversation about social anxiety, depression, self-confidence, eating disorders, therapy, and the inner mental battles that she endures daily.
More Than a Coincidence
Now, what if I told you that my therapist and I were JUST talking about eating disorders a month ago and have been discussing the inner mental battles I have gone through for the past 4 months? That’s more than a coincidence. Don’t worry, I’ll discuss these in more depth in a later blog post once I feel that I’m ready.
Here I am listening to this girl say the same things that I tell my therapist in our sessions and giving her advice that my therapist gives to me. It got me thinking about how easy it is to believe in someone else’s ability to get through hard things or help someone else not be so hard on themselves, but it’s the hardest thing on the planet to extend that grace to yourself.
When working with high school students, you quickly learn that each day is going to be different from the day before, so you tend to have an open mind about the day and withhold all expectations. However, I can guarantee that I wasn’t expecting an interaction that would leave such a mark in my day and my life, to be quite honest. This one conversation taught me so many things, but I walked away with two key lessons in mind.
Everything really does happen for a reason. Don’t roll your eyes because in most cases, it’s true! Whether you believe in God, fate, or the universe, everything that happens is purposeful and intentional. It’s up to you to look for the lessons in the things that happen around you and even to you. I had to do a lot of self-reflecting after our conversation to truly understand that I’m was being too hard on myself. Hearing your therapist tell you that and actually witnessing it happen to someone else and making the connection to yourself are two different things, and watching this girl put this immense pressure on herself put so much into perspective for me.
The second lesson I learned is that sometimes we just need to be a friendly face and lend a listening ear to others in need. I just met this girl THAT DAY, and I made her feel comfortable to open up to me and share her thoughts and struggles. I made her feel less alone, and all I had to do was show her that I cared.
So, let this be a reminder to always self-reflect, look for the lessons in everything, and never underestimate the power of a smile.
Side note: I also wanted to share that this interaction helped me realize that I am supposed to be working with high school students to help them grow personally, and I am looking into starting graduate school within the next couple of years to become a high school counselor.
“Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” – Desmond Tutu