Nothing Personal

Her eyes were on the prize and she wanted my help.

Tricia (not her real name) was 14 when she asked me to advise her on a special project. She wanted to work toward a national honor awarded by the U.S. Congress to young people who set and achieve challenging personal goals. Eagerly, I signed up.

As Tricia's advisor, I'd help her set and achieve goals in volunteer service, physical fitness, expedition/exploration, and personal development. The materials she gave me said committed advisors played an "important role in a young person's pursuit" of the award, and would "guide participants through the goal-setting process," "help them realize their potential," "encourage," and "stay in touch" with candidates as they worked along. According to the award's website, my guidance would "be remembered long after" Tricia met her goals and earned her medal.

Yeah, right.

Feeling Used

After our initial excited chat about how great and challenging and dynamic and interesting and encouraging and fulfilling the journey would be, I waited. Tricia called only when she needed my signature. She mailed me packets of forms with Post-Its pointing to the lines where I was supposed to sign. I signed and mailed the forms along, but I had almost no personal contact with Tricia. For six years.

Tricia is now entering her senior year of college and has nearly fulfilled the award's requirements. I received an email from her recently saying she was home on break and that she'd drop by with the final set of forms for me to sign.

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May 25

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