Life does not always happen on a linear path and for many of the students and families I work with, there have been a few curves along the way. Sometimes, it is messy. And that is okay, it’s just life. At McMillan Education, I have the opportunity to work with students and families who aren’t always on a linear path. And just like life, they adjust, learn from their mistakes and make different, often better, choices.
I began working with Tucker while he was starting a gap year. He was on a nice, clear academic and athletic path, having had the opportunity to attend boarding school in New England and become a soccer star earning his way to a top spot, Division I team. Things looked pretty good on the outside but on the inside, Tucker was wrought with anxiety and fear which led to him looking for relief in substances. All of that set him on a different path. He chose not to attend the first school offered and then was given another amazing opportunity to play soccer for a Division III team. None of this was what he wanted. It just did not feel right for him. Tucker had gone to a wilderness program and returned home in hopes of being able to begin his college and soccer career but things soon spiraled downwards.
I met with Tucker and it was clear he wanted OUT of New England, he hated it! As we continued talking, he shared more about his pizza delivery job, his substance use as well as his underlying fear, anxiety and depression and the impact it was having on his life. He talked about wanting and needing something different. As we sat across the table from one another, I heard him talk about a desire for a different way of living but he did not know quite how to get there. It reminded me of the quote, “If nothing changes, nothing changes. If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’re going to keep getting what you’re getting. You want change, make some.”
After talking to Tucker and meeting with his parents, we decided on a young adult transitional program where Tucker could begin to address his substance use and underlying depression and anxiety. Tucker was reluctantly optimistic! He was looking forward to being out of New England in warmer weather but not sure about all the rest.
Young adult transition programs help students transition from adolescent behaviors to responsible adulthood. Tucker, as most students I work with, is inherently good, and lost his way. The young adult program helped Tucker redirect his focus through their clinical services, mindfulness approach, life skills training, outdoor activities and much, much more. Tucker was able to work on repairing and rebuilding his relationship with his parents, building a network of friends, obtaining his green belt in martial arts, getting a car, beginning working at a golf course and finding his passion in pursuing a PGA degree…..and all because he is taking a look at who he is, digging deep in therapy and staying sober.
Tucker shares, “I came to treatment having lost myself in addiction, depression, anxiety, and life in general. Through my experiences, the lessons I’ve learned, and the relationships I’ve formed, I am transitioning back to the real world a confident, happy, healthy, and motivated individual. I am beyond grateful for my new life and everyone who has helped me along the way.”
Tucker has truly had a transformative experience. He has chosen to get a tattoo on his arm with a quote by Oscar Wilde, “Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future”. Tucker explained that he wants a daily reminder of where he has been and where he is going. He is truly taking what he has learned and applying them to the next steps in his journey. Tucker has come to see that every action has a consequence and with consistent effort over time, he can have a life he never before imagined.
When I first meet with parents, many have lost hope. I always reassure them that there is no way that I could do the work that I do if I did not see positive changes, not only for the student, but for the entire family. I am honored to be a part of the journey with our McMillan students and families, whatever path they take!