BY Jazlyn Surell (One Circle Foundation)
I always knew that I had the heart to help people, but I was not clear on the path to go about it. When I think back to how I got where I am, I am often taken back to this specific time. I was a first-year at Arcadia University and I was opening a bank account for the first time all by myself. I do not remember a lot of it. It was such a mundane errand to run, but what I do remember is a conversation that I had with the bank teller. She was asking me what my major was and I told her that I wanted to go into a trauma counseling field. Then, she asked me if I experienced anything similar to what they have. I told her no. She shifted into a more serious tone and asked me how I was going to relate to anything that they tell me if I have not gone through it. That one conversation made me question my decisions. How was I going to counsel if I could never relate?
Now, I am a mental health counselor intern at a high school in Philadelphia. After spending some time learning my way around and getting to know some of the youth, they have started to open up to me, and tell me some of their problems. They say that it is good practice for me. During these times, I would always want to fix the problem. However, after I spent some time learning and growing through Girls Circle Facilitator Training, I finally got it through my head that this is not (necessarily) what people want! One of the lessons really resonated with me. The facilitator asked me to imagine myself venting to someone, and then write out responses that I would want. Some of the responses that I wrote down were for the other person to pay attention, ask necessary questions, and to just be supportive. This is something that I did not always do. The facilitators asked the question, “why do we always feel the need to solve other people’s problems, when that is not what we would want?” That was so true.
I want to be someone that others can talk to and feel supported by. The conversation that I had my first year with the PNC bank teller had been stuck in my head. It made me doubt myself, and I was always nervous about being a good counselor if I had never been in their shoes. However, I do not need to have gone through what my students have gone through to be a good counselor. I just need to listen, be an advocate and support them. I do not have to have been through what they have been through to be an adult who has their back.