When I started interning at Lighthouse, no one knew me, my age, or my story. 7 months later they know me, they know I am "only" 23, and they know a lot of my story. The biggest deal to most others though is my age. Many cannot get over that I am only 23 years old counseling women who are almost all older if not twice my age.
I remember when some of the women first found out how old I was. One of my clients was talking about how the following Saturday was her birthday and she was excited to celebrate. Well lo and behold the following Saturday was my birthday too! And of course I had to tell her this!
When I told her that we shared a birthday the next logical question was "how old will you be turning?" Her answer: 28. My answer: 23. I said it as quietly as possible, scared to admit to them how young I was. To say they were shocked is an understatement.
I was always worried about telling them because I didn't want them to think I was too inexperienced, too naive, too young, or just not good enough. They all thought I was mid to late twenties before they heard this.
Fortunately, my age has never been a problem with any of the women. They have gotten to know me, how I work, and have come to love me for me. Which I could not be more grateful for. To them it doesn't matter how old I am. What matters is that I am there for them, there to love them, and there to help in any way possible.
Tuesdays I help facilitate a group there with a couple of other women, who happen to be at least old enough to be my mother. This week we started a class on grief. Which is extremely hard for anyone, but extra hard for these women.
It was left up to me to open the group and lead the session. I am use to this and just did what I thought was appropriate for the group. I tried to show compassion and understanding for the heaviness of the topic. I related to them and told them about some of my own grief. And I emphasized to them the power of having God on our side during the grieving process.
When all was said and done one of the other leaders, who I only work with in this group, came up to me and asked me how old I was. I meekly said "23". She gave me hug, told me how amazed she is by my insights and maturity, and thanked me for being there for the women. Yes she was surprised by my age, but that did not stop her from noticing and complimenting my work.
This warmed my heart to no end. It is always great to hear that I am doing a good job at work that means the most to me. I am thankful for her and everyone else who has lifted me up with kind words of affirmation on my work. Receiving these words get me through my day and push me to keep working hard. So thank you to anyone and everyone who has affirmed me in my journey to becoming a counselor.