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“I don’t know what I’m doing here. I don’t know what I’m going to do with my life.”

It was usually fairly easy to tell what kind of day Jazz was having by the way that he walked into the Crisis Program common space in the mornings. On the good days, he would stroll carefree into the room and assess the area, nodding and smiling at his co-residents. He would then walk up to the window near the office and tap softly on the glass; offering up a wave and smile when I would look up from the computer screen. On the mornings that Jazz was not in a good head space, he would walk quickly past the window, scarcely making eye contact and giving only a half-hearted smile if our eyes happened to meet.

On one morning, in particular, he kept his head down for the entirety of his walk past the office; he was not having a good morning. I made a note of this and caught up with him when he returned to the common space. He was seated at one of the tables and fiddling with a puzzle piece. I sat beside him, picked up my own puzzle piece, and feigned looking for a spot for it in the half-constructed puzzle on the tabletop. Jazz slammed his piece down on the table and exclaimed, “What am I even doing here?”

“Building a puzzle?” I asked, knowing full-well the intention of his question. He chuckled and looked up at me. “I don’t know what I’m doing here. I don’t know what I’m going to do with my life.” I nodded along and responded, “Very few people do at your age, Jazz.” His brow furrowed and he asked me how I knew what I wanted to do with my life. I told him that I had always loved working with people and had been lucky enough to discover that early in life. Jazz perked up and said, “See, I feel like that too. I just want to help other people. I want to be able to give back.”

“And you can,” I responded. Jazz sighed and sank back into his chair, “I can’t. I hated school and got bad grades.”

This statement is one that I often hear from our residents at Covenant House, and I always respond in a similar manner. “Maybe you hated school because you weren’t passionate about what you were learning. Maybe if you were taking courses in something you loved, you wouldn’t mind sitting in that classroom.” Jazz tilted his head slightly in contemplation. “I think I would want to do something like what you do. I think that’s what I would go to school for.” I smiled at Jazz, “I think that would be a great fit for you.” Jazz sat up a little straighter in his chair and smiled, “Who knows, maybe I could even work at Covenant House one day.”

Shared by Desire, Youth Worker Crisis Program