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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Small Steps ... And A Moment of Clarity

It's strange to me sometimes how I see pieces of myself in so many of the students I work with on a regular basis.  I guess that's a big part of what makes me love my job.  Because, even if it's in a small way, I feel like I am helping kids find their way through this crazy world.  Especially the part that is the craziness known as your high school years.  

As I'm sure many of you remember, I didn't really talk to my counselor in high school.  Heck, I'm not even sure I remember who he/she was.  I think there may have been two of them throughout my four years at NW.  So, I love how the field has grown in importance and relevance since I finished high school and even since I started my career a little over 10 years ago.  Although there are days where I feel like I have more students than I know what to do with, I always enjoy my conversations and getting to know them as a person.  I take it as a piece of pride when a student comes in to talk and I remember their name, something fun about them and, if we've talked about it, maybe what they want to study or a college they are thinking about.  You might be thinking, how hard can it possibly be to remember names?  Well, when you have over 400 students you are responsible for knowing, it might be a little easier to understand.  It takes time. But, it's fun and why I went into this field.  Because I LOVE helping people.  

So, what made me think of all of this today?  A student was struggling with a few things but was having trouble figuring out exactly how to fix it.  I'm not saying I fixed it.  I can't do that for this student.  But, when I left the student at the classroom after talking for a long time with this student, mom and then a teacher, the student was smiling.  Not a lot.  But, enough that I felt good about where we left things.  As I was talking to the student, it finally came to me what I wanted to say.  Something that it has taken me a lifetime to learn.  And something that has really come into focus over the last (almost) 2 years for me.  

Take small steps.  But you have to take steps if you want to solve problems.  Or become more comfortable with a situation.  If you've read any of this blog or kept up with my story even a bit, you know how much I hate change.  And how much I love my comfort zone.  So, as I was talking to this student, I relayed just a little of the perspective that I've found over the last (almost) 2 years - I can't believe it's almost been that long - You don't have to make big changes right away.  But, you do have to be willing to take a step here and there if you ever want to make changes and find a better life for yourself.  We all have things we are afraid of or don't want to do.  Some more than others.  I'm probably one of the people who has struggled the most to be willing to step out of my comfort zone.  It's something I struggle with on a regular basis.  But, I have learned, that, with taking chances comes awesome rewards.  There are so many things that have happened in my life because I finally decided that taking a chance was what I had to / needed to do.  

Taking that step to change my life in January of 2013 was so incredibly scary for me.  I still remember the feeling in my stomach because I had no idea who I was meeting or what to expect.  Imagine my surprise almost two years later and that I've found more positive things than I can possibly list because I took that step.  Don't get me wrong, it took an immense amount of pushing, convincing, support, encouragement, etc from who I came to know as my friend Renee'.  When I finally started to see what was inside of me and the potential I had, I blossomed.  I have hard times but I've slowly developed the skills to not let those hard times knock me to the ground.  

When I am able to help a student like I did today, I realize the choice I made to change my life has impacted so much more than just me.  I can pay forward what was done for me without even realizing it because I have so much more insight and ability to reflect on myself and others.  While maintaining professionalism, I can let the kids I work with know that I get it.  In a way that I probably didn't get it two years ago.  Or, that I wasn't willing to accept 2 years ago.  

See, I am a firm believer that you have to like yourself and be positive to help others see that in themselves.  That is exactly what Renee' has done and continues to do for me simply through our friendship.  Feeding off of her positive energy helped me see what being happy feels like.  And how much of a difference it can make in my own life and those I'm around on a daily basis.  Today I had a moment of clarity when I said to the student exactly what I challenge myself to do every day.  Take small steps.  What's the worst thing that can happen?  You might end up back where you started but you'll never know how great things can be if you never take a step.