Building Self-Confidence in a New School and Country. Conversation With a Past Client

by | Jan 5, 2021 | Interviews With Past Clients | 0 comments

I started coaching Aviva in the area of self-confidence in May 2016 and we worked together through high school. Now, she is in her second year at LMU and we are still in touch. She’s graciously agreed to share a little bit about her experience with coaching and how it impacted her life.

Moving from Australia and starting high school

I want to just give a little background. When we started, it was May and you were well into your freshman year at Torrey Pines High School. You also just made a big transition, moving from Australia to Del Mar, CA. When you and I met, you were adjusting to a lot. Two areas you really wanted to focus on at that time were friendships and self-discovery.

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We did a lot of my favorite coaching processes, like the Enneagram and Via Strengths Finder, both helped to uncover your personal characteristics and strengths that would help you with developing strong friendships and easing the adjustment from one continent to another. Can you remember what was going on for you when we first met and how you were feeling about starting with a life coach?

I moved from Australia to China and then to San Diego, CA. So it was definitely not only starting high school, it was a transition from a different country. I experienced culture shock which had a huge impact on my friendships.

My mom was the one who brought up that talking to someone about these things would be helpful. She knew that I was having self-confidence issues, and I definitely think talking about these issues made things easier. With friendships, I was going through normal high school issues, but I didn’t really know how to deal with them until I talked about them with someone who gave me a different perspective.

Starting high school, even under the best circumstances, is a big social adjustment because there are so many new people. Most freshmen are just trying to find a place to fit in. But for you, there were added cultural and academic adjustments.

Yes, for sure different curriculums and everything. I think high school is difficult for everyone because everyone has so many different issues that they don’t really talk about and are trying to deal with on their own. So when you have an outlet to express the feelings that you’re having and you learn how to work through them, it just makes life a whole lot easier because everything gets put into perspective.

Coaching was an obvious and welcomed choice

I have a clear memory of when your mom called me. She had read my article in San Diego Family Magazine. She called and we chatted about your situation, and then she said that she hadn’t yet told you about coaching. Do you remember when she brought it up to you? How did you feel about coaching? Were you apprehensive or did you welcome the idea of talking to someone?

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I already knew that it would help. In middle school, I talked to people who were working with counselors. So I already knew that it would be beneficial for me to talk to someone who wasn’t my parent about things I was dealing with. I love my parents but there are things you need to discuss with someone who has a different understanding. So from the beginning, I was open to the idea and felt pretty comfortable with starting.

Moving into self-confidence coaching

I would say 60-70% of my clients were open to life coaching, despite what many parents would expect.

I remember, as we worked together throughout high school, some of your goals shifted a little bit. You started to want to work on self-confidence. Can you share how things evolved for you as you went through high school?

I was struggling with staying focused and motivated. I was dealing with a lot at that time, and it was seeping into my self-confidence. I wasn’t confident in how I was managing high school academics. I was pushing myself but I wasn’t sure if I was really doing enough. That was definitely impacting my self-confidence.

Yes. We started to focus solely on self-confidence and mitigating the doubt around academic performance. Can you remember any specific practice that we did together that was exceptionally helpful for you?

I remember one that helps you identify the voice in your head that is feeding you negative thoughts. Even though deep down you know that voice is not true, it’s difficult to push it away and it’s always in the back of your head. Finding different ways to shift your perspective and outlook was definitely a good exercise and helped me manage my negative thoughts. By breaking them down, I was able to see what serves me and what doesn’t serve me, and then I was able to focus on the good.

Choosing the right college and future career path

I’m glad that tool is still in your back pocket to help you with self-confidence whenever you need it.

Around late junior – early senior year, our focus shifted again, to your future and gaining clarity around your college and career path. Can you share how coaching supported you through that big decision-making process and all the things that come along with it?

Throughout my senior year, I had all these interests and various majors that I want to explore and I was really unsure about what college I wanted. I had a pretty specific list of what I liked about certain colleges, but then when I went to visit them, I just loved them all! I couldn’t really make a decision about it.

Coaching helped me get clear on what college experiences I wanted, and what type of school and environment would best suit me. You brought up a lot of interesting points throughout our sessions that I didn’t think about before. Neither of my parents went to college in the US and I’m the oldest child, so there was no one who could tell me about the college experience in America.  It helped to have someone who knew the system but also knew me well enough to guide me.

For a lot of high school students, their focus is so much on test scores and GPA. Sometimes, it’s easy to lose sight of the other factors that go into making your college choice.  I appreciate that you acknowledge how answering the right questions allowed you to find clarity and make your decision.

And you made the right decision! Do you want to talk a little bit about where you are now and how your college experience is starting off?

I go to Loyola Marymount University and I am a film student. I loved my freshman year. I think it was definitely the right environment for me. There is so much opportunity, I started to get really into sound design which is something that I wouldn’t have even considered before. It’s a small school and I think it really suits my personality.

When I first thought about where I wanted to go, I knew that I didn’t want a religious school, but I ended up at a private Catholic school and I actually ended up joining the Christian life community!   I grew more open to different things, to new experiences, that I wouldn’t have before.

I think LMU definitely creates an environment of wanting you to be involved with as many things as possible. And that’s something that I wanted from my college experience — to try new things and have different experiences. I really did like my freshman year and I wish I was going back on campus, but I can’t because of the pandemic. So hopefully next semester.

Importance of reflecting back on where you began

When you reflect back on your coaching experience, what would you say is the biggest impact that it had on you?

I grew so much and I understand myself so much better. I really got to the root of a lot of issues, not only figuring out what those issues are, but how I deal with those issues, how my mind works, and how I see the world. I got a better understanding of myself and this is why my self-confidence grew, and why I feel a lot more comfortable with myself. I know myself, I know how I work, I know how I interact with people, the way that I do things. Being able to talk about things with you and have someone like you who would go back and show me my progress gave me a new perspective.

You remind me of one of my other favorite coaching processes, The Challenges and Wins of the Year.  When we do a reflection, either through a calendar year or a previous school year, and look at where the growth happened and the wisdom that you gained as a result of going through life’s ups and downs, it’s a huge self-confidence boost!

Aviva, it’s such a pleasure to see you and talk with you. I loved coaching you because you were always so engaged and determined and also really open. I thank you for sharing your story, and I hope we’ll stay in touch.


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