This post is a bit lengthy, but if you have a teenager, please read on. I recently received this paper that a teenage client of mine submitted for her personal statement assignment. I cried when I read it. Not just because I was so touched by her words, but also because I am so happy and proud of her for all of the progress she has made. Being of service fills my soul. Coaching is my passion. And she gave me permission to share her story in the hopes that it might help other teenagers that are struggling just like she used to. (I have removed her name for privacy.)
“It’s the effin’ process” bursts out of her mouth every single time I get frustrated. It is her go to line. First and foremost, she is my personal coach, which is very similar to a therapist. However, she is also my role model, and I push myself to be more like her every day. She is spunky, carefree, and incredibly successful. Not only does she encompass all those wonderful characteristics, but she is also creative, helpful, and honest. Her life experiences and coaching abilities can alter people’s lives forever, and I know this from first-hand experience. She changed my life for the better, and I will always be incredibly grateful for our relationship. She is remarkable, and her name is Becky Barror.
I remember the day we met like it was yesterday. My mom and I walked into this “stranger’s” house to have an initial consultation. My hands sweat as I shook her hand and took a seat on her brown, velour couch. She casually told me about her life and how she became a personal coach. Then, she let me talk and talk and talk more as tears dripped down my face as I shared some of the hardships I had faced in the past and present. Now that I look back, it puts the most pure smile on my face. When I started this journey of self-love and personal growth, I was the epitome and definition of broken. Becky saved me from myself, and a simple “thank you” just does not seem like it is enough. I started out keeping all of my emotions and thoughts buried deep inside, and I never would speak my truth. I was horrendous at communicating, but Becky changed that by encouraging me speak my own truth. On top of that, I was also a hypocrite as I thought my way was the right way. I was so set in my ways. I made life impossible and cut the best individuals out of my life. I remember as clear as day that I was constantly worried, and all I wanted was to be safe. However, safe for me meant I was unable to live my life to its fullest potential. To add to being safe, fear consumed me in all aspects of life because I was so afraid of getting hurt.
There came a point in the fall of 2018 when my mom decided she did not care what financial burden might result. She knew I needed someone to guide me through some difficult times. Becky was referred to my mom by her long-time friend. She knew many people who had worked with Becky through different hurdles in life that were thrown their way including changes in jobs, divorce, death, and general well-being. When I had my first official session, she was just too much for me. She was so positive and could rationalize through anything. Over time, she started to grow on me. However, at the time, I did not believe in her strategies. I doubted her. Becky helped me uncover some of my faults. First, I was very judgmental to the point that I hated most people, which makes me sound like a monster. Once Becky started to talk me through this, I began to judge less. She pointed out and helped me realize I needed to work on trust. I have major trust issues that stem back to middle school. It was the faith I lacked, which Freire explained was needed to communicate effectively (Freire, 1968). I came to Becky close-minded but also determined to work, especially since my parents were willing to pay for me to seek the help I desperately needed. I was so stubborn, so it took a special person to help me change. With her ways, she’s changed me to be open-minded about everything and anything. Last summer I had no drive to take action, but with Becky’s guidance, I now act on what I say. I started out silent and non-existent, which is long gone.
As time went on, I was stuck as an individual. I cried every time I had a session with her, and I thought that defined me as weak. However, Becky made me realize the opposite; it was just emotions. While working through my struggle, she made me reflect on the truths I believe. When putting action and reflection together, like Paulo Freire said to do in the “Pedagogy Of The Oppressed,” I started to view things differently, and it changed my outlooks on certain ideas. Continuous reflection has changed how I see the world as a whole (Freire, 1968). I took and still take advice from Becky like it is the rule book of life. She has pointed out all of the lies I have made up about myself, others, and situations. She made me realize lies I did not even know I was telling myself. Then, I slowly started to accept myself and others once I started affirmations, journaling, and working out. Together, Becky and I have built mutual trust, but that is one of very few relationships that I have faith in. I am not going to lie, during this period there were times I despised Becky because deep down I knew she was right. However, the things she was telling me I did not like to hear. To explain myself a little bit, I am the definition of humble, but in a bad way. I always would put others first, neglecting myself. Now, Becky has made me see myself as a priority but not that I am better than anyone. This ties to Freire’s thinking on the “true elements of dialogue” under the idea of humility. She made me realize everyone is unique in their own way. During this time, I was single-minded and did not take anyone’s opinion as plausible. I changed my reality. I was a “naive thinker” because I did what people thought I should do. Now, I do what I want to do.
I met with Becky on a regular basis and worked extremely hard to find what was missing in my life. I found my purpose and self-worth. Before, I had no feeling or meaning in my life. Now, I have faith in other people. I try to understand people’s beliefs and values before shooting them down. Because I was closed off, this impacted my relationships. My friends and family would not share their ideas because I did not try to understand them. At one point, I got cut off from my best friend because she was afraid of my judgement. Becky made me step into other people’s shoes, and I realized none of us are “perfect.” I am a perfectionist or should I say was? Becky taught me through proof that no one can be perfect as it is impossible.
Over time, I have become more accepting and less judgmental since I started this relationship. I started out shy and unwilling to be heard. I have not lost myself in this relationship, but I have bettered myself to be who I want to be. My favorite part of my relationship with Becky is the deep conversations we have. While working on my communication, I have become more positive and I see things from different viewpoints. Becky told me that when I love myself, things will fall into place. Boy was she right! I want to believe and trust people, but it frightens me a bit. Therefore, I continue to work on it. Our communication is like no one else’s because of truth and honesty. We now text all the time, and she has opened my eyes to new things like yoga. I have so much trust in Becky, and I can tell her everything because I know she will not judge. I trust her enough to tell her the good, bad, and embarrassing. When Freire explained profound love, he emphasized the need to be open-minded because you cannot communicate if there is fear (Freire, 1968). Also, I have done more critical thinking with Becky than anyone else. We do it constantly, and I truly believe it is what pulled me out of my rut. Happiness is now abundant in my life, and I truly believe like Waldinger said that effective communication does make a person more happy and fulfilled (Waldinger, 2015).
Today, the “effin’ process” continues, and every day, I make the slightest bit of progress. If this process were a math problem and I added up all of the little bits of growth from the first time I met Becky, the outcome would be staggering. Our relationship has been life changing for me. She has become like a best friend and a second mom to me. When I need her, she will always be there to coach me. I trust her, and I love her. I know my future holds great things for not only me, but also for our relationship.