Part VI of a VII Part Interview with Mackenzie Fierceton, a University of Pennsylvania graduate and Rhodes Scholar who aged out of foster care.
I can never express how grateful and lucky I am to have found all the people that are in my life today. Every time I think about it, I get emotional. They continue to show up for me in a powerful way and vice versa.
I have a really great therapist and I recommend that to everyone. I think it has been such an instrumental part of my healing, specifically building my ability to trust and to be vulnerable. That is the bedrock of being able to ask for and accept help. It started with the idea of accepting help. At first, I promised myself that I wasn’t going to ask for it, but if someone offers it and it's essential, then I’d accept it. Slowly, over time, I became able to ask for help and support and admit when things were not perfect.
I think sometimes it is the little things that give me a hard time, like who do you call when you’re having a bad day? When you’re confused about how to file taxes? Who can help you put together an IKEA desk? It’s the things that other people don’t think about that just make you feel even more vulnerable. And alone.
What do you do during a pandemic?
Like a lot of students, I never went back to normal school after spring break in 2020. After my virtual graduation, there was no work to be found. I was panicking. I didn’t know what to do. I had very little money saved up. Where can I move that’s safe? Really safe. There’s a pandemic going on!
My former professor actually ended up saying, why don’t you come live with me and my partner for the summer until you can find somewhere more permanent? I was very resistant at first. It was another example of when to accept help. They had seven new puppies and needed some help with them, and I needed a safe place to stay. It was a mutually beneficial relationship. I was able to help them with the puppies and they helped me with a place to live. They are wonderful, and I actually still live there. I work full time, and I am finishing my Master’s of Social Work degree, which I’ll graduate with in May 2021. I have friends that live close by so I can walk down the street and hang out while socially distancing. I haven’t felt so lonely.
My tools: Therapy. Teachers. Joining like-minded groups. Learning to ask and receive help. Education. Community. My chosen family.
Read the final part of our VII Part interview with Mackenzie next week when she reflects on her thoughts about our book, Reshuffled.