If you can go back in time now, and give that 16 year old (version of yourself) some advice, what would it be?
if i could give myself (or you) advice at any age, it would look something like this:
- don’t let what others say affect what you believe about yourself.
- trust yourself.
- compromising a little now means you’ll regret a lot later.
- it’s okay to ask for help. when you’re wrong, admit it.
- love your family - immediate and extended - you never know when they’ll be gone.
- respect is a given, love is grown. no exceptions.
- be honest with others, but more importantly, be honest with yourself.
- life happens: accept it then appreciate it.
- change is part of growing. the sooner you learn to cope with it, the better off you’ll be.
- be careful who you give your heart to - not everyone knows it’s worth.
- beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. if you don’t see it, change your viewpoint.
- be real. people know when you’re faking. you know when you’re faking. authenticity is more meaningful than achievements.
- the point of life is this: love God, love others. learn it, live it.
on a serious note
Who or what inspires you the most in life, whether it be a friend, a relative, or even a musical artist, and how does he, she or it inspire you?
I don’t know that there’s a specific person that inspires me in everything I do. I have different people which inspire different parts of my life. Konner’s mom, Darcy, is the most Godly woman I’ve ever met - and yet not “holier-than-thou” or “go-to-church-or-go-to-hell” about it. I have watched how she raises Konner and I have watched how she lives her life and helps others and she inspires me to read the Bible more, to pray for even simple things, to make right choices - even when they’re not easy, and to trust that there is a greater plan.
Music is also a huge part of my life. It inspires in me this feeling of … joy, maybe. You know those days when the sun is shining and you’re driving in your car and you roll down the window and turn the music up and sing your heart out? That, for me, is happiness. And it comes, in part, from the weather and where I’m at in life, but it’s largely from the fact that music has the power to reach people in places that mere words cannot.
The last thing that has the most impact on me is the youth of today. When I first felt like adolescent psychology was what I wanted to go into, I did what I could to find work in the field. The kids that I have encountered along the way have been a catalyst in shaping exactly what area I plan on specializing in. I think we - and by we, I mean professionals/parents/teachers/etc - have this tendency to look at teens and see everything wrong with them (and for the most part, we’re right - they’re pretty messed up). But what we fail to do is take a moment to really examine why they’re like that. Were they raped? Were they abused? Were they abandoned? And not that those things give them free reign to do what they want, but when I stop ask myself, “So why is this girl cutting herself? Why is she getting into fights every day? Why is she oppositional and deceitful and attention-seeking?” it often gives me a new perspective on what’s going on. We have kids as young as 4 being checked in to our facility because their parents can’t handle them. At some point, that should draw a red flag. And that, to me, doesn’t mean always blaming the parents and peers, sometimes it means looking at what I can do. Pretty sure this is me just rambling now, but yeah… they inspire me 1) to keep doing what I’m doing and 2) to keep trying to do more than I’m doing.
What is your greatest fear? Why?
My biggest fear washes over me in the face of my biggest inspiration. When I listen to kids tell me about their life, I am often overwhelmed with this sense of injustice and anger. It’s human nature, I understand that. We are all selfish and we make poor choices and we are incapable of perfection. My greatest fear, though, is that this passion I have to help will go to waste. I am sometimes afraid that, while I know who I want to help, I’m not sure how I will do that. Will I write a book? Will I develop a program to be implemented in schools? Will I end up doing therapy at a clinic or hospital? I don’t know. And it’s that uncertainty that I have the hardest time with.
As for the why of it all - if you’re not living up to your full potential and content with what you do, then why do it? There’s this quote from the movie 28 Days (with Sandra Bullock) that’s been stuck in my head for the last week. It says, “If you’re not having fun, then what’s the freaking point?!”
DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA HOW BEAUTIFUL YOU ARE?
A complement in the form of a question. Thank you. To answer you, though, I feel most beautiful when I’m living a life consistent with my beliefs. I think I’m doing that pretty well right now; so, while I might not know HOW BEAUTIFUL I AM, I do know that I feel really good about myself because there’s not this disconnect between what I believe and what I do.
I wish I could drive you to Burbank Airport on Christmas morning for an 8am flight so that you could go home and see your family. But I am in PA and I have no driver’s license so that would be very illegal. I hope that you’re having a good day, and that school is going well, and that you somehow get home from Christmas.
thank you so much for the thought. i wouldn’t want you getting in trouble with the law on my accord. :) i actually will be flying out from Ontario and will either drive myself and pay for my car or else take a shuttle and my roommate will pick me up. i am SO EXCITED to be going home… aside from the cold and snow, it should be a fabulous time all around.
How can you smile with all those tears in your eyes?
they tell me everything will be wonderful someday.