Zane had experienced many traumatic events before walking into their first day of junior high. Among bouncing around from school to school, Zane had a front-row seat to addiction, dangerous behavior, and emotional abuse. Due to these experiences, Zane was at high risk of self-harm and suicidal ideation. Zane was angry at the world, and they made it known.
When Zane stepped onto the grounds of Highlands school, a shift began to take place for them. “This is one of the best schools that I've ever been to. I was really happy I got to stay at the school because I got to grow with the school, and I got to meet amazing staff,” boasted, Zane.
One of those staff members was Erin, the school’s success coach. “Being involved with [Erin] has helped change my mood and change my perspective on a lot of different things.”
At first, it wasn’t easy for Zane to open up to Erin. Their past trauma created resistance to accepting her help. Over time, Zane began to drop their defense. “I started warming up to her more and more and more, and I realized that she's not trying to harm me. She's just trying to help me understand why I feel this way.”
Emotional awareness was something that Zane had to build. Anger was an emotion they felt comfortable expressing and could go to in the snap of a finger. Erin helped them focus on their feelings and use coping strategies. “I try and ground myself and find out why I'm feeling this way. Because a lot of times I can get really mad or really sad and I'm like, ‘wait, why do I feel this way? Am I feeling this way because something happened?’ and if I ever need words of encouragement, I can go to Erin, and she helps with that a lot.”
Before, if Zane got angry, they would shut down and not speak to anyone. They found a way to take their pain and channel it healthily and productively. Controlling their anger has allowed strong and nourishing relationships to enter their lives. They can now enjoy going outside and to public spaces because of the coping strategies and safety plans they have in place.
Zane’s triumphs did not go unnoticed. They were presented with the Resiliency Award at their school. “When I won the award for resiliency, my class went completely wild. There were people getting up, clapping, and cheering. Realizing that everyone cared, it was a really nice feeling.”
Zane was grateful to be acknowledged and is proud of how far they have come. “I realized that I am resilient and that I won't let things hurt me as much as they used to.”
Zane hopes to help people the way that Erin has helped them. They feel that others will be able to relate to their personal story. They want to be seen as a living example of success. Zane has learned to find the silver linings in life and wants to help others find those linings in theirs.