“Hey, good to see you again!” I say to a girl who comes in a bit unsure. We agreed during the regular health check that I would invite her again because she was not feeling well. I ask her if she remembers what we would be talking about today. She nods and looks down. “About my weight,” she says uncertainly. I confirm this, but also correct her. “We can talk about your weight if you want, but we don’t have to,” I say seeing her uncertainty. I tell her that we can also talk about health, lifestyle, nutrition, exercise and her ambitions. The girl looks up and a tension seems to drop from her. “Yes, I would like to talk about that!”
First I ask how she is. She talks openly about herself. About her performance at school, about home, about friends and about her health. She finds the latter difficult. She says she doesn’t feel well. She doesn’t know how she feels this way at first. I ask her what she means by health and she starts talking about nutrition. She says that she tries to pay attention to healthy food. She says she regularly eats fruit and vegetables, doesn’t drink soft drinks but as much water as possible and tries to limit the number of snacks as much as possible. We are talking about the three different (main) meals, the quantities and about healthy alternatives for the tasty appetite. I see a very motivated girl in front of me.
Without asking, she herself starts talking about the combination with exercise. She sports 3 times a week. She likes it, is good at her sport and notices that moving gives her energy. I confirm that the combination of healthy food and sufficient exercise is the basis of a healthy lifestyle. In conversation we come to the conclusion that she is actually doing very well. I give her a compliment that visibly makes her glow.
Then I hold up a figurative mirror to her and ask her about her unhealthy feeling she mentioned at the beginning of the conversation. She says she is not happy with her weight. She really wants to lose weight, but she can’t lose weight. I listen and watch her. I see a beautiful teenager with insecure feelings sitting in front of me. “What exactly would you like?” I ask her, and she indicates that she wants slightly thinner legs, a slightly flatter stomach and narrower hips.
I ask her if I can tell her about my insecurities when I was her age. She looks at me in disbelief, as if a big secret is coming. I tell about my insecurities, how I dealt with this and how this is now. I mention the insight that everyone is different and everyone has their own insecurities. From too big to too small, too thick or too thin. All kinds of uncertainties come up in conversations. She listens attentively. When I ask her what she thinks of this, she confirms that the ideal image does not exist. She then mentions that girlfriends also have insecurities, which she does not understand that they are insecure about. We have to laugh. Together we come to the conclusion that there is always something, but that your health is the most important thing. She then indicates that there is actually nothing wrong with that and she thanks me for that insight. I indicate that she does not have to thank me, but that she can pat herself on the back. Both for her openness in the conversation and for who she is. I indicate that she is unique and that that is something she should be proud of.
After the conversation, she confidently closes the door behind her. Where she came in at the beginning of the conversation, still huddled, I now see a girl leave with beaming eyes and a smile on her face. This is what I do it for. To make young people feel good about themselves by focusing on health and behaviour. I then pat myself on the back and realize that I am proud of the work I do as a youth nurse.