• Onjila Odeneal

Count Yourself In

Updated: Dec 8, 2020

We are only who we’ve convinced ourselves to be, who we’ve allowed others interpretation of our capacity to shape the perception of ourselves. From a very early age, everything in this world that we consume, direct or indirect, molds our minds (or not) on what we internally believe we can have, do, and/or be. Much of our actual capacity is truly limited and/or expanded by these experiences. Some people identify a challenge or lack of innate ability as a sign that something isn’t meant to be, while others may recognize it as something that needs to be worked on to improve. It all starts with the internal belief that you are… or you are not capable of overcoming. 

When working with students (and even ourselves), we have to remain conscious of what we convince ourselves is within our reach or worth reaching beyond. Count yourself in, is the message that we should consistently deliver to our students and families about their investment towards their futures. The input is free and could warrant great reward but it starts here, with the mindset that it is yours and you are capable! 

When we work with students, it’s not just a matter of informing them of what isn’t feasible when their dreams are too lofty or unrealistic. By the high school age some students have created this safe place that manifests itself into sometimes false realities to get from day to day. Our work is to help them understand the thought process that leads to the critical thinking that will support them in arriving at what is feasible and what is not. We however have to allow them to count themselves into the process first of what is to be their livelihood. The resiliency of the demographic of student populations that most of us serve is so immense but in more cases only used for survival.  We are here to ensure these students have the tools to not only tap into that resilience for future success but to overcome any obstacles that they may face along the way. 

There is much that we know that our students and families must do in order to be successful as many of us have lived this reality and learned through trial and error. We strive to provide them with the insight that we wish we were provided in our journey. We are eagerly invested in making sure that we devote ourselves to this cause. We however have to contribute the same investment on ensuring that this journey is theirs and not our outward projections of the void that was present in our own journeys. We do this by providing the space for them to count themselves in and develop the critical thinking skills necessary to identify the very messages that we in essence desire to deliver.

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