It Feels Good To Let It Go

One of my 8th grade girls is exceptional. She stands out from her peers because she's so smart and capable. But not just that, she acts on her potential. But she's quiet. And when I first met her, I thought she was quiet because she's shy -- and she is a little. But as I've gotten to know her, I've realized her quiet is more about taking in her surroundings. She's learned to be wary of most things so she's constantly reading and re-reading situations. Assessing how much of herself she can be in any given situation.

This year she's one of my student council members. In fact, she has a special designation even within the student council group. As such, she gets to spend the end of the day in my office helping us with stuff. An office assistant, basically. We didn't have anything for them to do today, so I spent some time talking to them. We got on the topic of what makes a good counselor and she shared that she's never felt comfortable talking to a counselor. Her reasons for why were many. Basically a combo of not trusting and adults not understanding.

As I kept asking questions to probe her thoughts on this, she started sharing bits of herself with me. But she was doing it as she was also telling me she didn't like to talk about herself with adults or people she (essentially) hasn't vetted. In the same conversation where she told me she doesn't trust anyone and doesn't have trusted adults in her life, she told me all about the friends she has who she doesn't trust. She told me about familial issues. She told me about feeling mistreated because her Nigerian aunts don't like her American mother. She even told me she doesn't say "I love you" or "I'm sorry" because she thinks they don't mean anything anymore.

I toyed with the idea of pointing all of this out to her, but I was enjoying watching her open up so I didn't. It was evident to me that while she was telling me she holds everything in, she was EAGER to get it all out. Apparently it was easier for her to feel like she was holding on to bits and pieces while she shared bits and pieces. Once she got started, though, she really couldn't stop. Another, much more vocal and verbal, student kept trying to share his experiences, but the rush of being able to share hers, wouldn't let her stop long enough for him, even with his overbearing ways, to get a word in edgewise.

I recognized what was happening to her because it's happened to me. That moment where you feel like you can finally let some stuff go in a safe space. It'll come tumbling out and you can't stop it. It just feels good to let it go. And you know, I was reminded today (not that I need a reminder) why I do what I do. For moments like those. Where a student is holding on so tightly to her identity as a put together on the outside, but falling a part on the inside individual all the while letting you see pieces of the broken parts.

She didn't show me everything. She may never show me everything. But the fact that she felt like she could do with me what she never does with anyone else... I did something right.

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