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That very first day on your own. It's hard to forget. When you're in grad school, all you want to do is finish your internship and land a great job. When that happens, there is a massive sense of relief - you did it! Everything is working out!
Well, that feeling lasts until you watch the sea of little faces fill the hallways in waves and waves and WAVES. There are kindergartners crying, new students trying to find their way, and worried parents who want this year to go better than the last. Suddenly, you are expected to help and there is no school counseling supervisor to look over you any longer. I remember thinking, Am I actually qualified to do this job? Which is ironic because I spent my whole job search convincing myself I was.
However, I watched 50/50 post grade school, so my reaction was a little different. In many ways, I saw myself in Kendrick's character. I remember my first school counseling session, trying to figure out what to do and say. This feels awkward, should I say something? They are being really quiet, what should I do? How long should I let them talk before I wrap things up and send them back to class? It's funny how quickly things change.
Now, I feel like I can handle most of what comes my way. I am learning the fine art of listening and guiding, being supportive and firm. I know which students just need to vent and which need more advice. I know which teachers need time to talk about their difficult students and which ones need some space. I am certainly not perfect, but each day I am becoming a better version of Marissa 1.0, the newbie who had no idea what she was getting herself into.
I say this not to scare you, but in fact, to help you feel less alone. It's okay to be scared out of your mind sometimes. It's okay to not know all of the answers. I am only going into my 5th year of school counseling, but I can say each year is better than the last. You grow more than you ever could have imagined and soon become a strong, self-sufficient machine, in the best of ways.
As you gear up for this school year, know that not every session will go well (see video on the right), and that's okay. It's about the connections you make. If you feel nervous and stumble over your words, your students will forgive you as long as they know that you care. I promise!
So, when you see the waves of kiddos flooding your halls in a few weeks, you can choose to sink in your own self-doubt or kick until you reach the surface. Not literally. You know what I mean. ;)
Oh yeah, and don't forget: There are a lot of school counselors out there who can lend you a pair of floaties.