When I was a teenager, I had a volunteer experience that changed my life course. My high school spent the day engaged in community service. I was assigned to work at a shelter that housed children who had been removed from their homes. Many of these children had visible scrapes and bruises, yet maintained child-like play with our group of volunteers. But there was one toddler in the group of children that seemed far removed from childhood.
He tugged on my pant leg, extended his arms, and I readily swooped him up. Jeremy had no visible scarring, but it was clear he carried his pain within–his gaze was far off and he had no interest in play. I spent hours trying to coax him onto the playground, but he insisted on just being held in silence while his memory worked overtime. I asked one of the supervisors what was wrong and she explained that he had experienced trauma in his home. His disconnect was a way to cope with his experience. My heart softened and I stayed attached to Jeremy for the remainder of the day.
As we wound down the day, Jeremy and I sat down to watch cartoons with the other kids. He sat nestled in my lap and slowly began to wrap his fingers around mine. He subtly stroked my hand, his first true expression of connection all day. When it was time to leave, my heart ached as I realized this would be our only encounter.
But I wanted to help. I wanted to do so much more.
I had never felt so connected to an experience or to someone I had just met. He led me to realize that I had to spend my life serving children. The things I studied, the places I’ve lived, and the people who have entered my life all helped feed that desire.
Today I get to serve young women through Satya Family Coaching. This is a completion of my dream that was born seventeen years ago. I’m so grateful for my youthful vulnerability, as it allowed me to be genuinely influenced. I have a deep admiration for our youth–they are unfettered by self-doubt and grown-up complacency. My hope is that everyone can allow themselves to be inspired like they were young again, and find their unique paths.
Put yourself in new situations. Dare to do something out of your comfort zone. Let yourself to be influenced by another and then be brave enough to leap into your life’s calling.