Sometimes being a teen (hell, even an adult) can be super-difficult given the many road blocks, challenges, changes, pressures, and expectations that have to be navigated. Equally as difficult, is having to raise and nurture them to be productive and successful members of society. However, walking with our youth through this seemingly confusing period in their lives is 100% worth the frustrations, anxiety, worry, relief, happiness, concern, celebrations, etc. Every challenge and light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel moment, is working for your greater good. Below you will find a picture from a recent high school graduation that was attended, for a student that was on the cusp of not graduating on time, in a school district where dropping out of high school was an all too familiar norm and not an exception.
Nonetheless, as a firm believer that 1) everything happens for a reason, and that 2) every person that enters your life is there for a purpose- to teach, to inspire, to learn from, and/or to motivate/support, a number of people in his life were able to support him through his senior year of high school. Fortunately (albeit unfortunately for some when seasonal people and events are prolonged), we get to decide what purpose each person and event plays in our lives, and for how long.
But, back to the young man below. On paper, this young man was minimalist as it relates to doing what was required to pass through school, putting his ability to graduate high school on-time in question. With a combined need of credit recovery, passing his regular classes, and fulfilling the other school-based requisites, graduating on-time was an uphill battle. Keeping him motivated and hopeful that it could happen was also pressurizing because it required belief in the possibility even when the possibility looked, on surface, unlikely. However, had he not had the support, dogged push, guidance, and more importantly the self-motivation, walking across that stage in 4 years would have been an unrealistic wish.
(In line at the graduation ceremony, waiting for his name to be called to walk the stage, to receive his high-school diploma.)
So, what played a role in the moment above? What led to his turnaround? The same factors that play a role in whether we as fellow humans pursue our dreams, or not:
- Road map it out- He had a plan put in place and knew what was required for him to reach his goal- clear steps, and hard and purposeful work
- Real support system- there were individuals in place, at home, at school, and after-school, to support (not enable) his goals and the steps he needed to take to get there, and who genuinely wanted to see him succeed, while having his absolute best interest at heart; his work ethic was elevated and the support and encouragement he needed catered to his needs, to walk with him through the daunting process
- Rigorous accountability- his work was monitored; whenever there were instances where he began to slack, he was quickly called out on it, redirected, and reminded of the bigger picture and goal in mind
- Resolve- he desired his aspired end result more than he wanted to maintain the status-quo; though it appeared to be an uphill battle and the likelihood of him doing ALL of the things (and they were a lot) he needed to do to graduate on time seemed daunting, he had made up in his mind that his goal was achievable, that he could do what was required to reach it, and that his long-term end goal was worth his persistence and efforts
- Recognition- along the way his efforts were affirmed and validated, he was encouraged, acknowledged, and recognized for doing what was expected and required- focus more on what our youth are doing right and you’ll see more of it and vice versa; he put in the work and was lauded for taking responsibility for his end-goal by doing the required work
Sometimes our youth are treated like those “flowers in your dust bin.” There are, however, things our youth NEED in order to thrive. Though some may be thrown in your “dust bin,” the bottom line is- they don’t belong there, even when they are disregarded and thrown out, and when their purpose is to bloom and flourish. All they and most people often need is one- one person to believe in them, to dream with them, to believe that they are capable, and to believe that their goals are valid, achievable, and acquirable. Regardless of location, a dead flower or a blooming flower…is still a flower. May none of our children or youth ever feel or be treated like a flower that has been thrown in your dust bin, because when we pick them up and out, and nourish them, this (and more) happens…