Recently, I was hurt by someone I adored.
Being hurt, I found myself becoming incredibly angry. Angry at every move this person made, angry at every sentence she said. Angry, angry, angry!
Hurt has a way of developing into anger.
And man, was I hurt.
When I tried to unpack this hurt, I realized that I just had expectations that she could not, would not fulfill; expectations that left me disappointed and heartbroken again and again.
Even though I expressed my needs, it wasn't possible for that person to step up.
It was incredibly sad and painful, but it was what it was. In the end, I realized this individual wasn’t who and what I thought she was. Our friendship definitely wasn’t what I thought it was. I was not one of her priorities.
My ego bruised, I had to accept this and move on.
This colleague and friend has a particularly fragile soul. Throughout the years that we have known each other I always took special care, worried a lot, and made it my business to always remember how delicate she is.
How unexpected it is, that it is I, who is left with a wounded heart, a bruised and battered soul from this complicated relationship.
My girls in Juvie have very low expectations.
These expectations are so incredibly easy to fulfill.
It is as simple as being nice, treating them with respect, following through with what you say, and just giving them a chance.
I always wonder why this is so hard for people to do.
Why is it so hard for people to care just a little more for the other and a little less for themselves?
And why, why is it so hard to give someone a fair chance?
At one of the incarceration facilities where I work, the number of girls is very low. We are seeing fewer girls being incarcerated and more receiving early release. This is great.
I am happy and relieved, but, at the same time, worried about whether they are really getting what they need on the outside. And wondering if where they are being detained is better than this place.
As the 10 weeks of the program progressed, girls were sent home on good behavior, girls were transferred to a different camp, and my group got smaller and smaller.
The week before the final presentation I was down to only four girls. One of the four told me she doesn't want to perform.
“That's okay,” I said to her gently as I covered up my storm of panic.
One of the four found out that she will be getting out three days before she was supposed to, which meant that she would leave the day before the final presentation. The entire date of the show was chosen based on her original release date. This was completely unexpected.
“Ms., please, please,” she begged me.
“Will you please tell them to leave me here one more day?”
I laughed out loud and said, “No, absolutely not. It is so much more important that you go home and not stay here. I will meet you on the outside and we will go out for dinner.”
If her smile could jump off her face, it probably would have.
There is nothing that makes me happier than to see them happy about something unexpected that I say.
“Really? You'll take me out to dinner?”
“Absolutely!” and I give her a hug.
The day before the show I come to the camp not really sure what I'm going to do. I'm thinking of telling the audience not to come or telling the audience I only have one person.
I think to myself every voice matters.
Even if there's only one girl standing, I will do this show. I will figure it out. I will make it interactive with the audience. Whatever!
I contemplate telling the audience that I am not even sure what is going to happen.
My wise assistant says to me, “They don't know what to expect. Just coming to the facility is amazing. You don't need to warn them.”
If you don’t have expectations, the unexpected can’t affect you.
The day before the show I arrive at the camp. There are three girls. I convince the one who didn’t want to perform to come on board. Thank the gods of theater, she agrees!
Then something unexpected happens.
Another girl from the camp asked if she could join and help us out.
She wasn't part of the program. I was planning on having her join the new group, but she volunteered. She stepped up and I can't begin to tell you how incredibly wonderful, in sync and committed she was.
And then, a second girl came to the door.
We had finished the rehearsal.
I had seen this girl around. She had an angry face.
She stood at the door her eyes open wide. You could see her heart through those big eyes of hers.
“Ms., I heard you need help. Can I please come, too?”
It was quiet in the room. We just spent 3 hours adjusting for the first girl.
I look at the girls.
“It’s okay, Ms.” they say.
I look at this kid. I swear her soul was standing there begging me.
The probation officer looked at me.
“You sure you want to do this? She is an angry one, a really angry one.”
He shrugs and rolls his eyes.
I thought about how angry I have been at my friend, and what that did to my behavior.
She must be so hurt, I think.
I reach out my hand.
“You ready to dive in?” I ask.
“You got it, Ms.!” she says.
“Then, yes. Come join us,” I say.
She takes my hand.
The show was amazing.
This girl was amazing. She danced, she sang, she rapped.
Everyone was blown away by her.
I can’t imagine the show without her.
The probation officers told me she had a temper, that she was difficult, that they didn’t expect this performance from her.
“How did you get that out of her?” they asked.
“I simply said yes,” I told them.
Sometimes, you need to take a chance and just let the unexpected happen.
Because in the unexpected can be hiding incredible beauty, talent and brilliance.
Sometimes you need to just say, “yes!” even when you have no idea what will happen.
Sometimes, there might be hurt by the unexpected.
That is a chance I am always willing to take.
I hope you will, too.