I have to start this off with a big disclaimer. I have lots of friends outside PCC. When I write about the significance of relationships made at PCC, there is no intent to say that relationships outside of PCC are less than. There is simply a bond which PCCers share which I’d like to attempt to put into words.
They say it’s something you can’t explain. They say that your friends and family outside the program are unable to understand what goes on there. I have tried over and over to explain it to friends outside the program. When I got back to college in the Fall, friends would ask, “What is it?” I would typically respond,
But that’s not what it is, anyone who has gone or worked there knows there is something else to it. There is a common aspect that goes unspoken during the 6 week period. The silent theme ringing in the ears of all who inhabit the campus brings hope and happiness to all who are there. It is one that we try everyday to bring to school, work, life in general. But one that people continuously fail to demonstrate in their everyday lives.
The theme that everyone at PCC acknowledges is that there is NO judgement. For 6 weeks, you can be whoever you want. And more often than not, the person who you are during those 6 weeks is the person you wish you could be forever more. But unfortunately outside of the safety net which this program provides, there is judgement and insensitivity and ridicule. But at PCC everything you see, is everything you get.
Can you imagine a world were there is no judgement? Most cannot because no such reality exists. This world is full of judgement and criticism. But at PCC we don’t allow it. We strive to not let bullying exist. We strive to not let fear exist. We strive to create the most comfortable atmosphere possible.
One of the last nights of PCC, we hold a candle pass for each floor. And there is a portion where each proctor gets a chance to say a few words to the 40-50 young adults present. I remember when the candle came to me and I stood up and looked at all the familiar faces. All the memories from 6 weeks flashing through my head. I had been thinking all week-long of what I wanted to say to those boys. About 5 minutes before we all went out for the candle pass, one of my boys ran onto the hall in tears because his girlfriend had just broken up with him. I looked at him leaning against his bunk just sobbing and thought of all the times I’d just run to my room to break down.
When I got up to speak to my boys, I began by saying one of my favorite quotes.
“Not you, me, not nobody, is going to hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward, how much you can take and keep moving forward.”
The reason I chose that quote to share with them was because I thought about how many times in life we fall down because of people’s criticisms and judgements. And how so often the hardest but really the best solution to it all, is to keep moving forward and not dwell. I told them that I’ve made poor decisions and been judged for them.
But that’s not what PCC is about. PCC is about taking those poor decisions and looking at what we did wrong. We look at what we did wrong and we learn. But more importantly,
We become better people from our past selves.
To quote my favorite band (Guster),
“Stay right where you are, you’ll be half of who you were.”
If we didn’t make mistakes, we’d never learn. And if we didn’t learn, we would only weaken ourselves. But what makes learning hard is the judgement and criticism that come along with it. We exhaustively encouraged young yet growing minds to understand that judging someone gets both of you nowhere. It only holds you both back. So why not stop judging people and help them understand, help them GROW.
The things you can learn from 14/15 year olds to this day causes me to be speechless. You can learn at how insignificant things become. You can learn how to stop judging. But you can really learn that if you actually open your eyes, you might see that individuals of every age possess the capability to learn from their mistakes and move forward. Because standing still gets nobody nowhere.
For these reasons, I cherish all my PCC relationships very dearly, both with the young adults I proctored over and those who I proctored with. Because while we may not have always seen things the same way or agreed with one another, we respected each other, we never judged each other and helped one another GROW. And in my eyes, there is nothing more beautiful in a friendship.
I’m dedicating this blog post to one of my closest PCC friends. This is almost 2 months overdue and I made sure she pestered me to get it done, which she did at least once a week. She is one of the most selfless and genuine people I know and is a perfect embodiment of who a PCCer is.
Sarah Beberman was the floor leader of the Pink Ladies. As much as I make her life difficult, she is a wonderful friend who has taught me a lot about relationships whether she knew she did or not.
And this is her playing Mr. Frazier in the skit “If I were a Male Proctor”. She is certainly the toughest mudder I know.