Adjusting to Changes And Finding Happiness. Conversation With a Past Client

by | Nov 17, 2020 | Interviews With Past Clients | 0 comments

I’m here with one of my past clients, Kennah. She and I met in March 2015.  At that time she had just moved from Mammoth to San Diego and was gearing up to start school at La Jolla Country Day.

Adjusting to changes

Erica (life coach):
You were adjusting to some pretty big changes in your life. Your mom was the one who reached out to me. Do you remember what your thoughts were when she presented to you that you were going to start seeing a life coach? Or did you ask her for it? Can you talk a little bit about how that all went down for you?

Kennah (former client):
It was actually my dad. I think he saw you speak at my school. He told my mom about it and my mom told me. I wasn’t really asked, they just told me, “We think you should do this.” And I said, “Okay.”

I didn’t really know what it meant because I never heard about life coaches or anything like that before. But I had a lot going on, so I thought it sounded like something that could be helpful. I didn’t really want to talk to my parents about what was going on, but I needed to talk to somebody.

I actually remember meeting you for the first time and you were really open right away. I felt like we hit it off pretty easily. We talked about how you were adjusting to all the changes, like life in San Diego, a new school, a new living situation. Do you remember what was the hardest about that part of your life?

It was a really big change — going from this small-town school to a bigger school in San Diego. I was meeting a lot of new people who were totally different than anyone I’d known. Also, living with my grandparents, who were sick was another big adjustment. We had 24-hour care in the home which felt kind of invasive, especially at that age. I was 12 or almost 13. I was trying to make new friends at school. So there were just a lot of things going on and changes on every different front.

Then, you add to all the changes the whole dimension of being at an age when life is already blurry. When you’re figuring out a lot about yourself and about friends. Do you remember how coaching helped you adjust to those changes?

At that time, I needed someone to talk with about what I was feeling. I didn’t have anyone that I could talk to about everything. You helped me find the lessons in every situation and showed me that good can come from hard situations. That was definitely helpful at that age. You need to find the lessons so that you can use them later.

Coaching through middle school and high school

I often say, your coaching time is like your timeout from life, where you can reflect and say, “Okay, here’s what I’m feeling about this,” whether it really sucks or it’s hard, or it’s really exciting and good. It also gives you time to reflect and extract how it is happening to serve you, how you can benefit and strengthen.

We formed our relationship in middle school, but we carried on meeting through your high school years.  Obviously, life changes a lot from middle school to high school. Can you speak about the way you evolved and how coaching continued to serve you?

As the years went by, I was able to use things that I learned from you. The lessons became more applicable and relevant. As you grow up, relationships get more complex. There are so many more layers to them. What happened when I was in eighth grade affected how I dealt with things in tenth grade. I feel lucky to have had someone who helped me through past difficulties so I can deal with the later ones in a better way.

Dealing with friendships, parents, and personal problems

Thank you for describing it that way. I talk to parents a lot about the importance of reminding their teenagers that they’ve done hard things and they’ve gotten through challenges. When a teen is facing a challenge, it is a powerful reminder to say, “Hey, look at what you did two years ago. How did you get through that? How can that help you now?” I’m glad that you got that from your coaching experience.

When you look back, what do you think was the hardest part of your social world in high school?

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I’d say two things. One is the relationship between my parents and my social life. What my parents allowed me to do and what my friends’ parents allowed, didn’t always match. That was challenging because my friends would all be able to do something that I wasn’t allowed to do, which made it hard for me to fit in with my friends. That was definitely something you helped me with, too: working with my parents on finding a compromise.

The other thing was with my friends — understanding everyone’s different personalities and problems while trying to deal with my own problems and balance my friendships. It was a lot to have on my plate and it was really nice to be able to have you as an outside source that I could bounce stuff off of and come to for advice.

Transitioning to college

You are such a caring and compassionate friend, so naturally, your friends turned to you when they were dealing with stuff. And, that can be a lot. We can only contain so much. Having a safe space, like a coaching session, where you can download, process, and gain perspective helps you handle your own stuff and be able to support others.

We were lucky to stay in touch over the years. Even after high school, we had one or two sessions, when you started at Alabama [college]. What you would say was the hardest part about your transition from high school to an out-of-state college?

The hardest part was making a new group of friends who I felt equaled my group of friends from home. The way you make friends in college is very different from the way you make friends in high school. I had a solid group of friends in high school and I wanted to equal that in college.

Coaching for a confident future

Again, you were adjusting to social changes. You had solid friendships in high school and wanted to recreate that in college.

Earlier, you talked about how your coaching experience in middle school helped you realize important lessons, that helped you in high school. How did those lessons help you as you moved into college?

You helped me realize and learn important lessons, which makes me feel more equipped to handle things that are going to happen.

Identifying silver linings

You have the wisdom and confidence to say, “I can handle what life brings me.” That is a super helpful mindset to bring to college!

You are one of my longest clients and have years of experience with coaching. What was your biggest takeaway?

I think, identifying the silver linings. Knowing that when something seems really hard, there is usually something positive that can come from it down the road.

Advice for a teen

If a freshman in high school says to you, “My mom wants me to go see a life coach. Why would I want to do that?” What would you tell that teenager?

I’d say that it is really helpful to have someone on the outside, who can talk to you about anything and is always there to support you. Someone who has no ulterior motive and no reason to steer you wrong. People in high school have their own stuff that they’re dealing with and don’t always care about your interests. So, it’s nice to have someone who is there for you.

That is a good point. I actually wrote a blog about that. Teens don’t always want to talk to their parents about certain things and sometimes they don’t know how to bring up difficult topics. Parents often think, “If my daughter is not going to talk to me, she will talk with her friends, and she’s got a great group of friends.” But you raise an important point: sometimes it’s not safe to talk to friends because they don’t always have the best intentions. Sometimes friends can turn things around or tell other people what you share with them. So, there’s a sense of relief when you know you have your person (your life coach) who has your best interest in mind and, as you said, is there just for you.

Advice for parents

You also mentioned that quite a bit of your coaching focused on your relationship with your parents, especially around freedom, expectations, and rules. So I’m curious if a parent asked you about the benefits of coaching, what would you tell them?

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I would say coaching is a really good buffer between parents and a teenager. It is hard for a teenager to communicate with their parents in the best or most effective way. You were able to help me figure out how to communicate what I wanted or needed from my parents and understand what they wanted and needed from me. Before that it was like we were speaking two different languages, they didn’t understand and I didn’t understand.

Choosing a college

Coaching helps each family member understand where the other one is coming from, meet on a level playing field, and reach agreements that feel good for all parties.

Is there anything else that you would want to say about coaching or about your experience in middle and high school?

One other thing that I would say is that when I was trying to decide on my college, you really helped me because you knew me so well. You knew my background, what I liked, wanted, and needed. A college counselor only knows what you look like on paper, they don’t know anything about you as a person, which is a big factor when deciding where you’ll be happiest in college.

At that time, coaching was really helpful. Because you were unbiased and knew me personally, you could advise me on things that other people wouldn’t necessarily come up with.

Thank you. I love helping girls figure out where they want to go to college or if they want to take an alternative path. The personal wisdom that comes out of coaching is also helpful when writing your college essay and preparing for college interviews.

Yes, definitely.

Did you choose a school where you’re happy?

Yes. And I’m about to start my second year there.

I appreciate you sharing your experience. It’s awesome to hear your perspective of the years that we spent together. And, I am so grateful that we still have a relationship and get to catch up once in a while. I hope that goes on for years to come.

Watch the full interview with Kennah


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