Survivor Skills

I write articles and present in front of people all of the time, and it is always the hardest to write for my peers.  Do I go serious with a guest post?  Or do I go funny?  My goal is to impart some sort of wisdom gleaned from a quarter of a century of experience.  My other goal was to try and use the least amount of exclamation marks as possible.  You probably have enough people shouting at you.  I’ll start with a few of my thoughts that occur throughout the day.

“One step at a time”, “day by day”, “feared things first”, “Follow a To-do List”, “Compartmentalize that pain”, “You can do it”, “You can’t do it”, “Will I ever get over it?”, “Your story wasn’t as bad as others”, “What happened to you was wrong”, “Your feelings are valid”, “Your feelings are not valid”, “You are special”, “You are not special”, “I’m a survivor”, “I feel so fragile”, “Be Productive”, “Be Functional”, “Mind your finances”, “You are beautiful”, “You are awesome”, “You suck”, “You can do this”, 

The above is how I self-talk.  The way you self-talk may look different.  It is how I get up in the morning, it is how I get my work done and it is how I plug along.  Some days I feel so honored to be a former foster youth, and other days I just wish the baggage would dig itself a hole and disappear.  It leaves me feeling drained and fragile.  Yet, something inside of me keeps me going, keeps me climbing that mountain.  There is something special inside all of us that keep us going.  We survive, we strive, we lift, and we throw down.  We keep our head up. 

If you are a former foster youth reading this, you already have survival skills.  Move over Bear Grylls!  Some of these survival skills are really hard to turn off because they have served you very well.  Here’s a life example, one of my personality traits is that I’m a pleaser.  It served me well as a survival tactic, because it made working with foster parents and case-workers easier.  They naturally liked me and I was considered “low-maintenance.”  It has served me so well, that I have wrapped my self-worth up in my ability to please or assimilate.  It has also made me loyal to a fault, if I can’t make a relationship work; it is because I wasn’t able to please enough.  I wasn’t good enough, or there was ultimately something I was doing wrong.  I worked very hard to gain my foster parents love, acceptance and approval.  That is not something you can simply turn off. 

As you transition out of care, you are going to have lot of emotion.  You may move from surviving in one system to surviving in another.  If you are no longer in a situation where you are simply “surviving,” you need to grieve, because you don’t have the time to acknowledge it while you are experiencing it.  I attend therapy on a pretty regular basis and I talk constantly about how I am feeling.  The act of figuring this out has me being more forgiving of my faults.  The self-talk I listed above, comes from years of negativity from the people around me, so in grieving I’m learning how dead wrong they are.  I’m a survivor and I know you are too.  

"A Learning Process"


Marriage and Families: C+ Final

Ethics and Policy in Social Services: B Final

Hello fellow Transitionees. Have you learned anything today? I have. Today I learned something entirely underwhelming: I am not an A student.

Usually, in pursuit of that feeling that I completely aced a course, I’d either freak out or fall into a slump about half way through any given course. Because I wasn’t going to get an A.

Would you like to know the most useful thing I’ve learned in college thus far? Prepare to have your mind blown.

I can graduate without an A average.

I know, right? Woah. I’d like to be an A student. But I’m not. Sometimes I’ll miss an assignment, sometimes I’ll do an assignment with approximately enough attentiveness to it to say I did it, sometimes I’ll cram the night before a test. Sometimes I’ll cram the day of a test. Sometimes, I’ll cram the instant before an open book test (skim through things, highlight keywords so I know where to go when I see the word/subject in a question—-it works, trust me… best way I’ve ever found to circumvent actually knowing what you’re talking about). And you know what? That’s okay.

Does it make me a role model? Yes. It does. Because some of us are A students. Some of us can keep up consistent, high grade work all of the time—-or at least enough of the time that, by any measure, it’s kept up all of the time. However, A students would be so special if it weren’t for the fact that by all logical reasoning, not everyone can attain that score.

There is a method to being an A student. There is a method, no easier to learn, to being a B student. Or in my case, a strong C student. I have learned that, despite the fact that I have a thoroughly average work ethic and attention to detail, I should at least show up to class and do the assignments in all my average scoring glory.

Because there is really only one way to get an F.

Now, this blog is about Transition, right? Transition and all of the things that happen to one blogger in particular during the course of said Transition. So what does this have to do with Transition? Not everyone chooses the schooling route in their Transition, what’s this mean for them?

Life is Transition. Life is also graded on a curve, believe it or not. No matter what you’re doing—-work, school, both, parenting, friendships, hobbies—-you’re being graded. The only way to guarantee a big mean F is to clam up because it’s not looking as perfect as you’d hoped it would.

Chances are, if you just keep at it, you’ll get it out of it with a C. And hey, that’s passing.