Suzie’s StoryAfter my assembly, many students signed up for one-on-one sessions. One of these students was a beautiful young lady – a 16-year-old who appeared very strong, confident and kind. She displayed the signs of a healthy self-esteem. Because I have worked in education for 28 years, it usually takes me seconds to “read” teens. But sometimes I might assume too quickly, and there are a lot of surprises I have come to experience personally over the last decade. For lots of reasons, many of today’s teens find themselves having to “adult” way too early. Because of this, they are growing up much faster than they should. This is very unfortunate and can be detrimental to their well-being – impacting their ability to cope, reason and act. For the sake of privacy and because she is a minor, I’ll refer to this young lady as Suzie. Suzie with a “Z.” I like that. As she was coming down, the school counselor had said to me, “Oh, Suzie is one of my kiddos! You’ll really like her.” I really like all kids, but the smile on the counselor’s face led me to think that Suzie was one of those very special kids and in a good way. I looked forward to meeting her. She strode in confidently, dressed in school colors, with the school’s name emblazoned on her sweatshirt. I greeted her with a handshake, thanked her for wanting to see me and shut the door so we could talk. I’m still dumbfounded about the way teens open up to me. It’s the most incredible feeling to work with them in school communities as a teen mental health consultant. I’m 48 years old and I still connect with them. As a matter of fact, I’m having more fun than ever. I’m more present and enjoy the teachable moment even more as I get older. In the letter she had written and given to the school counselor, Suzie stated that she has some anxiety and pain and that she wanted to talk to me and only me. The upshot was that she needed to deal with those emotions and felt she would be comfortable sharing her story with me. We exchanged some small talk, which breaks the ice and helps to make young people feel comfortable.
Teens Ask Two Questions
- Can I trust you?
- Do you care about me?
How to Move ForwardHere is what I want to explain about moving forward. It’s Your Responsibility. I made sure Susie understood that it wasn’t her fault, but how she moves forward is her responsibility. Being violated by this person is traumatic and it isn’t her fault. If he made a forever decision to end his life by suicide, that wouldn’t be her fault either. He had attempted but didn’t complete the act. Suzie carries significant and unfounded guilt. We are all traumatized by life. Some of us suffer from the wrongdoings of others. Some of us are traumatized by pain we haven’t yet processed and emotions we have yet to address. Many of us simply don’t know how to move forward. Regardless, we all have a story and we’ve all been hurt. We have suffered loss, rejection, abuse, addiction, abandonment and more. It doesn’t matter how the trauma came. We are all dealt certain cards. Sometimes they are not a winning hand. Remember this: Even when you are not at fault, healing will always be your responsibility. Nobody else can do the work for you. It’s not that time heals all wounds. It’s what you do with that time that heals the wounds. Suzie had to want to get help. She had to be honest with her parents and move forward in a healthy way, so that these issues wouldn’t manifest later in life. She understood this and was ready to receive the help she needed. Instead of being burdened by the trauma in your life, you can actually learn to see that pain can be a rare gift in many cases. You learn from and are shaped by the circumstances in your life. Deal with the pain. Don’t avoid it. If you don’t talk it out, you will find yourself acting out. If you don’t move forward, an unfair circumstance becomes an unfulfilled life. Unprocessed pain gets transferred to everyone around you. You can’t allow what someone did to you to become what you do to those you love. You have one life to live. Don’t be the victim of circumstances. Choose to be the victor and take the responsibility to heal with the help of a professional. It’s okay to ask for help. Waiting and hoping for someone to come along and change your life will not change the source of your pain. You have to deal with it. If not, you will only become dependent and bitter. You have the power to heal yourself even if you previously have been defeated and led to believe you aren’t strong enough. You are strong enough and you’re not alone. The pain in your heart is a signal that you are meant to rise up and transform. Dealing with your pain will empower you. Many of the great people in history had the cards stacked against them. They rose up after tapping into an inner strength that outmatched the worst that life could throw at them. You can tap into this inner strength too. Discovering this source of strength will shape you. Taking responsibility for your healing is the first step. Metabolize the pain and affect change in your life. Do it for you, your loved ones, your family. Make the world around you a better place. Freely pursue your dreams. Don’t allow your pain to hold you hostage. You can handle anything life throws at you when you take responsibility and start the healing process. Stand up and face life as it comes. By doing this, you will become stronger and more confident – willing to dare, risk, dream and begin to see yourself as the victor you are. It