Monday, January 23, 2012

An Unexpected Update to Last Week's Post... Going it Alone When Your Support Isn't Supportive

“I didn't have a chance to ask this young woman how she communicated those changes to others in her life. Other patients began filtering in because it was a Saturday in an Urgent Care, after all.”

Remember this post from last week? 

Guess what?

The lovely receptionist I referenced remembered my blog, read about herself, and sent me an e-mail responding to the above! 

Quick recap, she decided to change her major and her career path several times… and is just about to get back into college. As you will see, the support she received when she conveyed her change of mind--and major--wasn’t exactly supportive.

Can you relate? I can! Read on...

She's alone... but going up!


I had the pleasure of speaking with you when you were in my Urgent Care.

I want to take this moment to appreciate you in all the ways that you have already helped me in my decision making. Even simple starter conversations can make such an imprint in someone else's memory, and for that I am very grateful.

By chance this afternoon I remembered your blog. I thought I would give you an answer to your question...which is a tad more complicated for just explaining on a Saturday morning. How did I explain my decision to my family/those close to me...

Truthfully, school has been out of reach in my family, but I have had a supporter in one particular family member. I hold this person, both personally and professionally, in the highest regard… until I shared this recent decision about my new major/career path.

I was expecting the usual acknowledgement and offer to help me plan that I’ve always received, but instead, the response was, “Those people are GENIUS. I don't think..."

I was so hurt. Hearing this doubt made me doubt myself. I have decided to use this doubt to push myself harder, and hopefully even if it isn't what I want, I'll get somewhere and the doors will continue to open for me like they always do.

I have also decided to inform no one of my decision. At this point I feel like I would be doing myself an injustice if I let their negative and doubtful opinions ruin my own support system that I have created for myself.

I have never felt more empowered to do something, and I feel like I can accomplish it. Why should anything stop me?

I hope this let you in on the dynamics of how difficult the choice can even be on oneself, let alone those around to influence.

In my particular circumstance I am grateful for the opinion of strangers who just want to listen, like yourself.  Thank you so much again, for even just the conversation, because positive affirmations are what count. I can safely say that I have never felt so good that someone like you was so interested in what I was doing...I felt validated and it really helped me. This week alone I have applied to four colleges.

I do hope our paths cross again, and I am now a devoted reader.

Thank you!

I’m going to hold my response to this student until next week. In the meantime, what would you say? Have you been in a similar situation, without support, but determined to find your way… alone? Let's get some discussion going!


  1. Yes, I have been in the same situation. No support, surrounded only by doubters. It is amazing that once one steps onto the path that we are destined for, how both doubt and encouragement become fuel. Doors do open when we follow our true calling. I was 30 years old before I found the faith to pursue mine. I am now almost 40 and realize that every hardship in my past has prepared me for each and every success of my present.

  2. To the student -- I wish you all the best in your new career/educational path. Even though you are sadly not getting the support you need from your family, I believe you can absolutely accomplish all of your dreams and plans. I love your resolve to take this negativity and turn it into fuel for the journey! Good luck!

  3. Thank you, Chesapeake-massage! I can't tell you how much I appreciate your inspirational words. I completely agree with you, too... I was almost 30 when I figured out what my "authentic self" needed to do. And 10 years later, I get why everything that happened had to happen. At least our subject of this post is going for it about 10 years earlier than we did. Bravo, bravo to all of us! Ellen

  4. Noel,

    A million thanks. I love the resolve, as well. It's so inspiring! I was hoping to get a band of support going for this student and I appreciate you kicking that off :-).

  5. Ellen,

    I love this story for so many reasons. Inspiring young people to believe in themselves is so rewarding, and the reason why I love working in higher ed.

    However, your post has reminded me of something: sparking casual conversations with strangers can lead to meaningful connections.

    Thank you!

  6. Isn't it absolutely wonderful when we can touch others as you did with this young woman! Wow, inspiring and so cool!

  7. To the student: I know quite a few people who are involved in computer programming and design. I think it really takes dedication and a love for what you are doing, both of which you already seem to have.

    In addition, I changed majors six times while I was in college, because I kept finding new things I loved. There is nothing wrong with spending some time searching for what you love, and once you find it, you most definitely should pursue it!

  8. @HigherEdGirl Jennielle,

    Thank you very much for writing! Yes, I am with you on why I work in higher ed, too.

    I think we really forget about the importance of those impromptu conversations, particularly since our eyes are so often fixed on texting.

    I'm very glad that the Urgent Care was so dead, and I'm especially thankful that I was able to cross paths with this young woman. She inspired me!

    Be well!

  9. Hi, Bruce,

    You know, whenever someone says, "I'm about to go back to school..." or "I'm in school", it's fair game for me to get involved :-). Thank you for your words. I feel very honored to be a part of those conversations.


  10. Rachel Ash,

    Yes, yes, yes! Thank you for your encouraging words! I am going to ping the student via e-mail to read all the great encouragement. What you are saying is so incredibly true!

    I'm so glad that you wrote in!