today is my first day of school.
a little over a year ago, i made the decision to get a masters degree in counseling. this decision in itself was huge, in my book, and it’s taken until today to come to fruition. after years of working with youth, i saw a problem that i couldn’t ignore, and more importantly, a problem that i thought i could help solve. my kiddos were predominately from immigrant families, teetering on the poverty line, and 100% feeling the effects of gang violence. my role at the time was to offer programming focused on cultivating positive social skills, supporting education, and discovering creativity. pretty much meeting any kid where they are at, helping them discover where they want to go, and getting them the tools they need to get there. this is swell and all, but it doesn’t do a damn thing for every experience they’ve had up until the point that i met them. i began to see that the baggage these kids were carrying with them was inhibiting their progress. baggage that was mostly manifesting itself in negative behaviors, an inability to express themselves, and an all around sense of apathy for human life, their own included. there were definitely therapeutic services available, but they weren’t always culturally competent, and i constantly found myself running up against the negative stigma of ‘mental health’ services. it took about two years until i reached the point where i stopped looking to others for the solution, and started pursuing it myself.
it’s been 5 years since i was a student. yikes. but i’m excited to say the least. it may be a rocky start, but i’m committed. and hey, maybe i’ll even make a friend or two in class.