How Counseling Made My Dreams Come True

I used to hang out with the wrong kind of teenagers. You know, they were the ones you would see at the back of a building, bullying someone. If they were not doing that, they were either drinking at the park or finding a way to steal items from stores.

That part of my life started during middle school. I was tired of being on the receiving end of bullying, so I decided to join the bullies. All I had in mind back then was that befriending those kids would stop the humiliation that I experienced in other people’s hands for years. I did not account for the fact that I had to become one of them if I did not want to get kicked out of the group.

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I began drinking at the age of 15. I could still recall the first time that I got drunk with my newfound friends. One of them had a fake ID and used it to buy a big bottle of whiskey at the convenience store. When I saw what’s in his brown paper bag, I initially tried to refuse because no one drank alcoholic beverages in the family, and I did not want to get caught by my mom. However, they said that they wouldn’t talk to me again if I said no, so I had no choice but to do it.

I hated the taste of alcohol every time, but I kept drinking when they told me to keep drinking. I just learned to pack a toothbrush and used it before going home so that no one in the house would know what I was up to.

Turning Point

The turning point in my life happened on my 18th birthday. My friends called me to say that they had a surprise for me. Of course, I was excited, so I went to the mall as instructed. When I arrived, they told me to pick three items that I wanted, and they would get them as my presents. I chose a bag, a belt, and a pair of pants. My friends even made me try them on to make sure that they were the correct sizes.

But when we were on our way to the cashier, they veered to the left and went straight to the exit — with the unpaid items. I watched in horror as the alarms by the door went off, signaling that someone just tried to get out without paying for something first.

My friends got apprehended at once. I thought I was already saved, but then one of them pointed at me. Another pair of guards appeared behind me and directed me to their office. 

Our leader told us not to admit to anything once the manager left us alone to contact the police. The others agreed readily, but I did not answer because that’s not what I wanted to do. Even if I did not plan that shoplifting, I was still an accessory to the crime, and I was so guilty about it. Besides, I felt the need to get out of the group before they could ruin my life. My family would undoubtedly know about my wrongdoings anyway, so there was no other way out. When the police came and informed us that the mall administration wanted to press charges and prosecuted as adults, I pled guilty. 

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My so-called friends bore holes at me with their dagger stares, but it was okay with me. I knew it would happen because I broke the pact. I stood by my guilty plea even in front of the Judge and was ready to go to prison. Of course l, I was sad that I would have a criminal record and that I could stay in jail for two to five years, but again, I had no other choice.

I was already spacing out as I assumed the Judge was about the adjourn the hearing when I heard my mom gasp and cry loudly behind Me. Then, my lawyer grasped my hand to congratulate me, increasing my confusion.

“What’s happening?” I asked.

The lawyer smiled at me. “The Judge practically wants to give you a second shot in life. He saw your sincerity when you admitted your mistakes. Instead of giving you jail time, you only need to do community service and promise to attend counseling sessions.”

I honestly could not believe it. I was so sure that I had to delay all my plans for my life to repent for my since in prison, but I would not have to do that anymore. I could not stop thanking the Judge for letting me get away with a lighter punishment. Out of glee, I vowed to meet him again in the future as a better man.

Getting Counseling

The first thing I did was work with the counselor that the law enforcement provided. I had no idea what it was initially, but the mental health professional allowed me to see that I got sucked into that dark side of life due to my insecurities. He helped me work through as many of them as possible and let the Judge know in the end that I was already good to go.

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Since my parents were still upset about the pain and humiliation I caused them, they refused to pay for my college tuition. I understood them, so I asked the counselor if I could do any work at his office. From being a part-time janitor, I became his part-time assistant for two years.

When I had the chance to go to college, I decided to study psychology. It felt so right to do that; it was a dream that I never knew I had.

12 Years Later

I found myself standing in front of the same Judge who gave me a life-changing verdict 12 years ago. This time, though, I was already a 30-year-old man with a Ph.D. in psychology and a certification in counseling. More importantly, I came as a friend, not as a defendant.

I saw how the Judge’s eyes widened when he recognized me. Then, his surprised look turned into something that resembled pride and admiration. 

“Sorry it took so long before I could fulfill my promise, sir,” I said, grinning.

“No, you are just right on time,” the Judge replied. “What are you doing with your life now?”

“Well, I just passed my licensure exams. I’m a licensed psychologist and certified counselor now. To thank you for all you did for me, I’d love to offer my services to juvenile defendants.”

The Judge shook my hand firmly. “Say no more, child. You’re hired!” he announced.

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The Importance Of A Strong Brand In Pandemic Times And Always

 

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Apart from just being a notable logo, great branding improves a company’s value, offers employees a chance to be motivated, and it helps to get new clients more comfortable. Right now, as we face a viral pandemic that we never saw coming, strong branding has never been more critical, particularly since most consumers are more focused on what they see online, which means that the appearance of the brand and how it is advertised tremendously influences their choices. So what is branding exactly? It is everything.

 

What is a brand?

It is actually a representation of everyone’s perception of a company’s performance, advertising, reputation, service, and logo. When all of these are harmoniously working together, you can say that a company’s brand is generally healthy. Let’s go right at it and respond to this big question: why is branding essential?

 

It creates trust. 

Normally, consumers would most likely buy from a shop that looks neat, classy, and legit. Families, on the other hand, are more comfortable leaving their babies in a credible childcare facility. Similarly, businesses with freshly created business cards, t-shirts, and other images are more convincing to consumers. People who pass by the shop or see them online can conveniently identify the company as a trusted business that is good for the family and the community as well. When they go to the website, and they are able to get their answers from an online customer service agent, or simply by searching through the site, they can easily relate to the brand and will depend on it.

 

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It supports marketing. 

Advertisements are another essential component in branding. Logos added to packaging, clothes, and printed material to market the business help spread the word and stand out from the rest. Some companies that cater to adults and children also print their logos on loot bags and other stuff related to parties, offering a favorable impression to parents and kids that go to birthday celebrations and other events.

 

It enhances recognition.

A logo is one of the significant parts of a brand because it is what consumers immediately see. A logo design should be simple enough to be unforgettable but strong enough to convey the company’s desired goal. Many online businesses have emerged in the wake of COVID-19. The competition mostly lies in the uniqueness of their logo and how well they conveyed its meaning to the consumers.

 

It strengthens financial value.

Businesses who engage in the stock exchange and public trading have a much higher value compared to their actual assets. Much of this value is because of the branding of the business. Indeed, a credible and robust brand almost always assures future business. Regardless of whether a company is transforming into an IPO or just borrowing money when it is seen as having a higher value, it is beneficial for the business owner. The more effort a company does to strengthening its brand, the bigger the financial returns. It is well-placed for any future expansions.

 

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It engages its employees.

A lot of employees not only want to work, but they also want to have something to work on. When they have knowledge and understanding of a company’s mission and vision, they are more engaged to work towards achieving the company’s goals that the company owners have set. When you have a company that boasts of a strong brand, it can motivate not only the owner but also the employees to make good and work hard for the success of the company. It instills inspiration and passion.

 

It brings in new clients.

Word of mouth is a powerful means of helping businesses bring in more clients. When the company logo is unique and memorable, people will remember it and talk about it with their friends, which is what generates almost half of the customers in a business. The most successful companies, whether big or small, have one thing in common. They have proven themselves to be leaders in their specific niche by creating a strong brand, which ultimately started with a strong logo.

 

 

Surviving The Pandemic As A Small Business Owner

 

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Undoubtedly, small business owners are hit the hardest from this current global crisis. Those with large-sized businesses have an edge when it comes to survival. Small businesses, on the other hand, thrive only with a cash flow good for three months the most, so when a pandemic like this happens, it affects not only the small-time entrepreneurs but also includes the employees that work for them. Are you a small business owner? How can you survive through the pandemic? The answers are not easy, but below are some points to consider and plan for the next three months.

Take advantage of the resources offered by the government and from financial institutions. 

Governments worldwide are obliged to help its people, and for small business owners, they are doing this through initiatives that can help them thrive and survive day by day. Be updated with how your government can assist you in cutting costs. Other institutions, including banks and credit unions, also have a social obligation. If you are a member of several markets, you can seek support options in those markets. For instance, find information about this from the US government while communicating and seeking resources from a market you’re a part of in the neighboring countries.

 

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Create a 3-month plan for your business and your finances

Almost all small business owners have similar expenses, like shop rental, utility bills, and employees’ wages, among others. Talk to suppliers, or loaners, or whomever you need to pay for the coming three months and see what you can do to spread out the expenses. Most likely, options are already set up, or perhaps there will be an understanding between both parties, as they are also eager to keep your business. You should be vigilant in deciding which payment plans are suitable and appropriate for your business.

Also, you might want to check your finances. Talk to a close friend or confidant about helping you find ways to control your spending and maximize what you have for the next three months. What expenses need to be paid within three months, and what are those that are not very urgent? Are you using business money to support your family, the elderly, and others? You should be able to have a transparent conversation with your institutions regarding short and long-term goals for the business.

Seek feasible and better opportunities

It’s not bad to put some capital on events, but this is also an eye-opener for those that are contemplating how their business is doing. Will your business plan survive the pandemic? How will your customers adjust moving forward? Digitalization is very important nowadays, and you can use it for advertising your products.

 

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Do not be too anxious.

All of us get worried when money almost runs out, but keep in mind that you must care for yourself and avoid getting too anxious, as this will do you more harm than good. When you’re stressed and filled with anxiety, you lose your appetite, and you forget to do healthy practices. Continue to eat the right food, get enough sleep, and find ways that you can relax. Show your employees that you can handle yourself and that you are capable of resolving problems that concern the business as well. Your staff will get their strength from you.

Keep a positive mindset – you will need it to be able to think soundly and focus on finding solutions and ideas that will help the business adapt to the current situation. If necessary, step back and reevaluate, seeking advice from people that you trust. Be hopeful. There will be better days.