To a certain extent, we have control over our own lives. We hold the magic wand to our future and our fate. Some might be questioned by that statement, but give me a chance to explain why. I was asked to spell out my biggest piece of advice that I believe would help another foster youth. This question seems to hold so much weight. There are so many important things to know about being in foster care. But if I could say one thing, it would be to design a life that you can be proud of. It would be that when you are staring at the two figurative arrows that point in each direction, pick the path that will lead you to your own personal version of success. If you think about how and why you entered foster care, you might notice a significant amount of negativity in your life. If you’re like me, you might remember a series of poor decision making. There are a numerous amount of reasons why a child could be removed from a home. We all went through something prior to foster care that has the power to affect the rest of our lives. We all hold a story of our experience in foster care, and whether it be good or bad, our experience impacts our lives.
In order to follow my initial advice, you must first not be afraid to tell your story. Everybody has different ways that they grieve or cope with trauma and loss. In order to put everything in the past and receive help, people need to understand you. It may be your school guidance counselor, a supportive adult in your life, or even a pesky college admissions essay. Keep in mind that nobody can tell your story better than you can. Sometimes it takes telling about what you went through to get somebody to understand your side or even to get the scholarship that you know you deserve. You never know how far somebody can help you or how many doors will open until you let people in and allow them to hear your story.
Next, you must never veer away from who you are. If you are going to be proud of your accomplishments, you better make sure you are achieving your goals and not somebody else's. Never let your experience take away from your culture or your own sense of self. I realize that living with a variety of different families can make it difficult to be your own person with a self-written identity. I cannot stress enough how important it is to stand up for what you believe in and to never let anybody tell you that you can’t. If it it something that you want then it is something worth fighting for. As foster youth, self-advocacy is one of the most important skills to have. There is a strong sense of comfort in having people like foster parents, caseworkers, or best interest lawyers there to fall back on when we need advice. However, like I said, nobody can tell your story better than you can.
The sooner you realize that you are the author of your own story, the more time you have to write. You may not have written your introduction and maybe a few chapters are hard to swallow, but you have the power to write your story starting the day you took charge of it. Make it something worth reading.