Looking back to when I became an All-star 5 years ago and another 10 years ago to when I entered foster care, many lessons have been learned, the hard and not so hard way. At 24 I've really started to understand the importance of having fruitful and inspiring relationships. In reflection, it was having quality relationships and staying around those that believed in me and celebrated me that allowed me to even make it out of high school and on to college. I'll just share a 3 thoughts on having a great support system.
• Those that support you can become more important than your parents, don't feel guilty
As a foster youth, and really now as an adult, I've had to accept that and come to terms with it. Some of the friends I've made, family, and professionals I've met have been supportive in many ways that my parents simply cannot. I've grown a love of traveling, and I enjoy sending friends and close family/professionals postcards. In the reflection of writing those, most people have served far more important roles in my later development than my parents and I used to feel very guilty about it, and at times still do. My mother told me that she felt she doesn't feel needed by me as she has been absent from many of the successes I've recently enjoyed which caused me to feel terrible. But in this life, things are what they are, and so we have to learn to not hold ourselves down for that. That said, it can feel awkward when other friends are giving great praises to their parents for support and advice and we resort to other people, life experience, and just growing up soon. Remember, we all walk different paths, it’s just that ours has less road signs.
• Go where you're celebrated, not tolerated
Many of us may feel like we must embrace certain family members or friends in school because of certain interests, needs, or bonds although these are otherwise people who may not have our best interest in mind or be overly interested in us. Keep your distance, on purpose. Each of us are special in our own ways and there are over 7 billion people on earth and 316+million in the US, someone is bound to love who you are simply because of your own heart. Find those people and love those people hard. These relationships take time to build, but they can prove to be far more valuable to you than any dollar amount.
When I got deep into care, I had a cousin who for some reason always was encouraging me and telling me how great I am and would be. But I was just a high school kid trying to fit in but not fail out and so his words rarely resonated hard. We always stayed close but I thought his over encouragement was odd. Even in college I was like "bruh, why you gotta call me nearly everyday fam?" None of the girls I was dating were nearly this supportive and encouraging. As I wised up to understanding quality relationships, I realized his undying support helped me even make it through college. In my eyes, he believed in me more than I believed in myself for many years until started to see in myself what he saw long ago. Whether it's a caseworker, a friend, or just a stranger, nourish those relationships, these people will help you get through the thick rains life likes to pour on you.
• Learn to be a friend
Friendship is one of the most beautiful things live can provide. But it's important you learn to be one and take pride in that. The generation of people I'm in are on this "don't trust/love/open up to people" movement and it's terribly unhealthy. No, you shouldn't give your all to everyone, but you also shouldn't shun people away due a fear of being hurt. Many of our parents and caretakers hurt us, at least mine did, which can be one of the most bothersome problems of foster adults. Understanding that people may take your friendship for granted is a lesson to learn in life as it has happened to me in many ways beyond purely socializing. That said, my learning how to become a friend helped me appreciate better those who were genuinely accepting and reciprocating my friendship. The group of friends I've acquired over the last 4 years (these relationships take time) has been paramount to my mental saneness, drive for success, and general overall happiness with life, and my financial net worth is in the red and quite negative at the moment haha. Grad school struggles.
I hope those 3 points were a useful read in understanding how crucial having a good support system is. It can make or break you many times but it requires work and vulnerability to trust another person, something many of us foster youth struggle with. But I believe in you!!
You can check me out at www.thewanderlusttrainer.com as well!
**I'm in the back of the photo against the window with my hands up**