A Letter to the Teenagers I Used To Work With

Something I don’t talk about on social media (or to anyone) are the experiences I had while I was working in residential treatment. I’ll be honest, working in residential treatment was one of the hardest things I’ve done in my life.  But at the same time, it was so rewarding being able to see each of the boys and girls grow and change [Note: I worked at a girls and boys home in the four years that I did residential treatment]. It was so rewarding watching them find their self-worth and realize that they matter. Each and every teen I worked with truly impacted me for the better. This is my letter to them.


Dear [insert your name here],

Wow. I’m sure it’s been a while since we’ve talked. I don’t know about you, but since I’ve walked away from working in residential treatment in September of 2017 so much has changed. Before I left the girls home, I told some of you that I was graduating from college and getting married. I’m ecstatic to report that both of those things happened. I graduated fall semester of 2017 with my degree in Sociology! What a wild ride college was. I’m grateful that I was able to finally finish my degree while working full-time as a shift supervisor. It was hard but totally worth it. As for the marriage thing. . . I finally did get engaged! Dale is the most amazing man, and I really wish that you could meet him. He puts Prince Charming to shame because he outshines those standards in every way. We’ll be getting married later this year [2019], and will be living in the Salt Lake area. Work-wise, I decided to switch gears a little bit and walked away from residential treatment a year and a half ago. I’ll be honest. I needed a break because I was feeling very burnt out when I left. But now, I’m working full-time as a program manager and host home coordinator at company that works with adults who have disabilities. As much as I miss working in residential treatment and being around crazy teenagers, I know that this is where I’m supposed to be.

Anyway, enough about me. Let’s talk about you.

How are you? What’s new in your life? I’d love to hear it all!! But most of all, I hope that you have found so much peace and happiness in your life. I hope that the things you learned, experienced, and grew from helped you find a path in your life that leads you to great things. I hope that you find peace in knowing that you are so much more than your past. I hope you know that you are the one who is in control of how your story ends and that you have the power to live a healthy life. I hope you know that being a survivor of all the things that you’ve been through doesn’t make you weak. It makes you one of the strongest.

I hope you know that all the nights I drove home crying in my car, or dreaded coming to work, or all the hard times of holding you accountable was completely  worth it to me. It was worth it 100% because YOU matter in this world and deserve all the happiness in the world–even if that meant you had a to earn a major consequence.

I hope you know that you are loved by so many people that are in your life–whether it’s your parents, friends, family, or those who worked with you in treatment. You are so loved. Never, ever forget that. 

But more than anything, I hope that you know that you are a child of God and that you CAN do hard things because of Him.  I know that YOU are loved by the most high being in the universe, who fully understands you and loves you without any conditions placed upon your relationship. I hope that you know that He is always there for you–especially in your darkest moments. I hope you know that because our loving Heavenly Father sent his son Jesus Christ to atone for the sins of mankind, that one day we can all be reunited together in His presence and we are all forgiven of our mistakes.

Never forget that you can do hard things. Life isn’t going to be perfect all of the time. You’ll have your struggles from finances to breakups to dreading that last final exam. But let me tell you a secret that I wish someone would’ve told me sooner: At the end of the day, nothing really matters besides one thing: Your relationships. Relationships are what help us find so much joy, comfort, good times, and in a lot of cases, a lot of success. Remember that having healthy relationships with yourself, God, and the closest of the closest matter. Remember that you are loved. Remember that you are a child of God. Remember that you got this and that you can do hard things. Just remember.

Love (in a non-creepy, boundary-appropriate kind of way),

Sam

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