Any educator will tell you, there is rarely a chance for down time when you work in a school. It’s a pretty constant “go” every single day.
Being a high school counselor who has the 11th and 12th graders, you can only imagine how fast-paced my days are right now trying to check in with my juniors and making sure that my seniors are getting their college applications in on time without going insane.
One of the perks of private school is that we take random days off that public schools don’t. While everyone still had to come to school yesterday, it wasn’t a typical school day. Our sophomores and seniors went and did community service throughout the community. Some were assigned to farms, some soup kitchens, some assisted living facilities. They went out and helped those that are less fortunate, which is something we stress heavily at my school. The freshman and juniors went on a retreat. Now it’s not the kind of retreat where they get herbal facials and massages. These retreats are meant to be character building and to help the classes bond and get to know each other better. In the spring we reverse and the juniors and freshman will do service and the seniors and sophomores go on retreats.
I was scheduled to chaperone the junior retreat yesterday. I’d never been on one of these before so I didn’t know what to expect. I’ve heard some stories of girls “oversharing” and some getting super emotional. Luckily none of that happened yesterday. It was actually a pretty nice day.
The theme of the Junior retreat was “Love More Deeply”. Obviously, I work at a Catholic school so there were a lot of religious/spiritual undertones to it. Me not being overly spiritual, I kind of ignored most of that. But it was meant to show the girls how they want people to treat them and it made them look at how they treat other people.
It’s always so interesting to hear 16 year olds say things like “I don’t care what people think about me” then go on to talk about how much they want to make sure people like them. Of course I bring up that point and they’re all “well, it’s only certain people that I care about their opinion”. That’s fine. Just be straight with it. There will always be those few people who’s opinions matter more than everyone else’s. You’re close to those people for a reason.
The speakers yesterday were also talking about how we show that we love people. Most of the girls were talking about all the showy ways like nice birthday gifts from family, flowers from a SO, etc. So I asked, why does it have to be material things to show love? They said it doesn’t, but it’s more concrete. Me being devil’s advocate (appropriate for a church-like retreat, I know), so if there is no material object in front of you, you’re not sure whether someone loves you or not? All of the sudden, it’s all “No, wait…that’s not what I meant”. Uh huh.
Yesterday really re-emphasized that love isn’t always showy and real love usually isn’t full of materialistic things and extravagance. Your parents don’t have to buy you a new Playstation every year to show they love you; your significant other doesn’t have to shower you with flowers everyday to show you they love you. It should be something you feel without all the extras. I think that’s so important for young girls to remember. There’s so much stuff out there that suggests if he loves you, he’ll give you everything. That’s not how it is. If he loves you, you know it, with out the frills. Devon has sent me flowers once in the entirety of our relationship; doesn’t mean he doesn’t love me. I know he does. He doesn’t have to buy me things to prove it. I’ve been in a relationship where there were gifts that happened kind of regularly and were a bit on the extravagant side. It didn’t stop me from leaving the relationship, though.
I feel like some of the girls got that message yesterday and I hope that they retain it. We do spend a lot of time working with the girls so that they understand their own importance and self-worth. I just hope that we get in deep enough into their brain that they remember it once they leave here.