I recently asked a new Fellow how others would describe her. She started with “awkward”. Each descriptor afterward was increasingly negative. Then, I asked her how the person who referred her would describe her. “Amazing and resilient,” she said after a pause.
Amazing and resilient.
The young people that we work with at RJLF are often faced with a lifetime of negativity - told that they are not enough, that their responses to trauma are unacceptable, that they will amount to very little. Those messages have a way of dominating the narrative. They become how a young person defines themself.
But every once in a while, there is a person who sees them differently and who takes the time to tell them that - to tell them about the good, the promise and the possibilities that exist inside. Their support may not drown out the negative messaging, at least not right away, but it will become a new voice in the back of a young person’s head. Over time, it may encourage the young person to define themselves differently, perhaps even as amazing and resilient.