Growing Pains

Posted Jan 12, 2022 - 10:32am

By Hannah Foley, PRC-Saltillo Blogger

Growing up is a natural occurrence of life that is necessary. However, the necessity of growth brings change which is good yet difficult and, at times, emotional. If you have been around for the past year or so, you know that I have experienced a lot of changes in my life, both personally and professionally, over the past year. You may have also caught onto the fact that I do not particularly handle change well.

As we entered the last week of 2021, I thought that I would not have anymore changes thrown at me this year. However, in classic Hannah fashion, that did not go as expected. This particular change hit me very close to home in various ways for different reasons. I have had many different experiences and individuals impact me and form me into the person who I am today and who I will continue to become in the future. The change and decision that I made this week involved moving on from something that truly changed who I am and my life.

I have been involved with a week-long AAC summer camp in Colorado since 2015. I initially started my first summer at camp as a camper and quickly became an informal mentor to other campers that week. This was my very first time being away from home for an overnight stay and I went from being very reserved and anxious to confident in being away from home and having someone external to my immediate family care for me. It also was the turning point in my AAC journey to overcoming my resistance. I realized that it was not that extraordinary that I used AAC and really opened the door to my passion for the AAC field I have today and that lead me to this career. Throughout the week, I became comfortable and confident in who I was which persisted beyond that week of camp. In summer 2019, I had just finished my junior year of college and was entering my senior year. We all know that this time is crucial for career development. I decided to return to camp as the formal camp mentor for the week, where I collaborated with camp staff and trainers to brainstorm and problem-solve and assisted in leading camp activities. I fell even more in love with the AAC field and made incredible personal and professional relationships that I will have for many years to come.

Camp did not take place last year due to the pandemic, but they are planning on having it this summer. I had plans and all intentions of returning to camp again this summer as the mentor and had a meeting with the camp lead to discuss camp plans this week. However, as I thought more and more about it, I reached the conclusion that I would like to give someone else the opportunity to have the experience of being the camp mentor and be able to grow their confidence with using AAC, as well as gain some professional experience in the field that they may not have had otherwise. I realize that I am more fortunate than most individuals who use AAC and have had many more experiences and opportunities than most can imagine. I felt it was my responsibility to step out of the role and give the opportunity to someone else.

This decision weighed on me heavily and it still does, because I know how transformative camp is and I love watching campers grow in their use of AAC throughout the week. I also know how much camp and camp staff influenced my life and career. On the other hand, I know that it is time for me to move on and let someone else have the opportunity to have the leadership role and experience.

Leaving things and places behind that were so transformative and impactful to your life is emotional and difficult, but necessary for further growth and development. There are many things in life and your professional career that will have a significant impact on you. You must leave some behind so that you can make room in life for others.

As Dr. Suess once said, “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened”.

Communicators In Action  -    aac, communication, language, grow, new year