Victories & Struggles
We are in the full-swing of summer with 30+ degree weather out here! With the sun comes the opportunity to slow down and reflect on the past school year. May and June are some of the toughest months working with teenagers. With the end of the school year, students’ lives are filled with exam stress, fear and anxiety heading into a summer at home, uncertainty about the next school year or unclear future plans, and a whole lot of exhaustion after giving life everything they’ve got for months on end. However, the end of the school year is also a time for goals being completed, graduation ceremonies and sighs of relief as they switch school supplies for bathing suits for a couple months! I wanted to share some of these awesome end of the year victories with you.
This time last year, I was working with a grade 11 student who was struggling to keep himself alive due to mental illness and tough circumstances. After months of just keeping his head above water, he was ready to give in. A co-worker and myself were able to get to the scene in time and hold onto the hope for his life that he couldn’t. Fast-forward one year and I got to watch this young man cross the stage and receive his high school diploma (I was yelling and cheering obnoxiously loudly of course)! He is now taking some time to ensure that he has structures in place to remain steady before he heads to school to pursue his passion for working with young people. From barely getting through the day-to-day to now looking forward to his bright future, I am so proud of how far he has come.
Earlier this year I was working with a grade 12 student that had no idea what she wanted to do with her life as she graduated from high school. She had not made plans to attend post-secondary school and wasn’t interested in doing any of the gap-year opportunities available. She was worn out and didn’t feel that she had anything to offer. Through her school, she heard about an opportunity to further her education in the food industry and she leapt on it immediately. She is now so excited for what September will bring. It just involved her taking one small step towards her dreams and she feels empowered to pursue them further.
I have shared with you over the last few months about the victories in these teenager’s lives but have not mentioned their impact on me. Working with these youth, I have seen my own life changed. I resonate with their stories, I struggle with their heart break and in the end it allows me to grow into a stronger human being. I have learned to love them when they are being difficult and learned to celebrate the small victories. When it comes to working with young people, the small wins truly are the catalyst of deeper change. And I have reflected on this truth for my own life and it has changed how I approach my own victories and struggles.
- Philippa Chapman