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Escaping Darkness, Choosing Light

“If you can’t see the good in the world, you have to be it,” is a direct quote from a 16 year old young lady, Shannon, who has become a mentee of me and my wife—a person who has been through hell and back; bullied, a survivor of suicide loss, multiple mental illnesses.

Only a few years ago, Shannon knew she was struggling with some life events and undiagnosed mental illnesses; took a risk by opening up to her parents, and started reaching out for help. The good in the world that she sought was only a speck of light that was nearly extinguished. 

At the present moment, Shannon still struggles at times (as we all do), but has won an award for her advocacy in suicide prevention, will be off to college soon, and will be co-presenting with me doing a talk on anti-bullying at a middle school in Beverly Hills, California (she’ll be flying in all the way from Kentucky).

I interviewed Shannon on the podcast and learned a lot, laughed some (how is a person in high school marching band terrible at walking? haha), and found the need to share this interview with you. 

I share this episode (embedded above, also downloadable, also available on iTunes) because choosing health over comfort, progress over pain, being the good instead of wishing for it—these aren't easy things to do. Shannon is a great interview and has some big thoughts and ideas. I hope you enjoy!

From Foster Care to Yale University—Overcoming the Past to Create a Better Future

How do you come back from some big obstacles or major trauma as a young person? What happens when no one believes in you, they underestimate you, all the while you’re constantly put in harm’s way.

Tough circumstances for anyone to overcome.

But what happens when someone finally believes in you, challenges you, and causes you to challenge the core of everything you once believed—a mentor. This mentor also tells you that you have to embrace your past and not run from it, you have to go back and acknowledge when life changed for you, and you have to forgive the perpetrators in your life—not for them but for you—and you have to become curious and learn as much as you can about yourself and the world every day.

I interviewed my friend and colleague, Rodney Walker, who talks about all this—his traumatic upbringing in the Chicago foster care system, his abuse, his first mentor at the end of high school, and how he went from nearly dropping out of school to making his way to Yale and then Harvard, and how he uses his past to help young people.

This one is incredibly powerful and challenged me to rethink some of how I viewed the world and interact with the people in it.

I share this episode (embedded, also downloadable, also available on iTunes) because embracing our past isn’t something we typically, willingly embrace—but when we do, it can have life changing effects. Rodney is a great interview and has some big thoughts and ideas when it comes to mentorship and self development. I hope you enjoy!