Therapy in Chester, NJ
Oftentimes in the social work or mental health field, you will hear the term "at-risk" to describe clients, specifically youth. This term means that something in this child's environment or background is putting him or her at an increased risk for negative effects (e.g. dropping out of school to experiencing anxiety). In reality, anyone, regardless of age, can be in a position where your circumstance puts you at risk for something negative, but just because you are at risk for something does not mean it's a guarantee…you can make efforts to beat the odds.
This brings me to The Pact, which is a book and documentary about three African-American men who grew up in Newark, New Jersey, a city that is known to be a not so great area. As teenagers, they decided to make a pact to break the cycle of negativity and become doctors, a feat that is extraordinary, especially when you consider that the high school drop out rate in Newark is over 50%. These men set out to beat their odds that their neighborhood and socioeconomic status laid out for them, and with a lot of support from one another, they actually did it. (Check out www.thepactthemovie.com for more information on the documentary.)
I showed this documentary to a group of adolescents, who are also from Newark, and it was their reactions that inspired me to write this blog post. One male said to me, "That one doctor was 17 when he got arrested for armed robbery and he still went to college…he was older than I am right now…so that means it's not too late for me to turn things around?" It is never too late to make a change, regardless of your age! If you're 45 years old, it might not be practical for you to begin medical school, but you can still make efforts to make a change in your life.
So how can you apply the inspirational and motivational story of The Pact to your life? Think for a moment about what your circumstance is that could hold you back. It could be mental illness, physical disability, learning disability, addiction, growing up underprivileged or uneducated, experienced physical, sexual or emotional abuse, diagnosed with HIV, been cheated on or gotten a divorce…all of these (and many, many others) can impact your ability to function and can negatively affect your odds of succeeding.
For example, if you were born with low birth weight, you are statistically at an increased risk for dropping out of school, among many other medical and developmental outcomes. But again, this is not a guarantee. So if you know that you are at this disadvantage, you can make a conscious effort to beat the odds!
Take note that the pact to become something better than what was expected of them was a pact between three very close friends. The doctors talk at great length about how important the support they got from one another and family members were to their ability to stay focused and motivated. Social support is one of the most effective protective factors that we know of, meaning that by asking for (and accepting) emotional and practical support from friends and family, you are more likely to decrease your chances of those negative outcomes.
If these three guys from Newark can become doctors, then why can't you? Set your goal, figure out the steps to reaching your goal, and do it! Every small step counts. It's going to be tough, but the power of realizing your potential, determination, and friendship will get you through!
If you could use help setting and reaching your goals or would like help expanding your support network, I am always here!
Call us at Modern Family Counseling at 732-742-0329 for more information about our services or to schedule an appointment with our therapists!