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Hannah Medlock

The Art of Listening

By Raphael Maurice

“It’s become more and more apparent to me how important it is to love and respect yourself.”

Hannah Medlock is articulate and wise, wise beyond the scope of most fifteen-year-olds. In her sophomore year at Meridian, she acknowledges the need for help, unlike many her age. She’s going to be a therapist in part because she’s benefited from therapy. She’s got plans for herself and those around her. Just as water can carve a Grand Canyon over immeasurable time, Hannah understands the impact one person can potentially have over their environment, and she wants to make a difference.

“I want to make a positive impact. I want to be a therapist for mental health after I graduate. And, you know, I’ve planned to move to North Carolina because the general area where my mom lives up there has a lot of people who need help. So moving up there, and having a therapist that’s just kind of open for that area. It would be a big change for at least a small portion of North Carolina.” The small portion she talks about will profit and grow from Hannah, from her presence, from her listening to those around her. When we’re really listening and not just waiting to talk, perhaps that’s a sort of divinity. Hannah didn’t know right away what she was going to become, but it all hit her pretty quickly.

“I first wanted to be a mortician. And then I realized that wasn’t really for me. So I started looking. And I myself have been in therapy for a while. And it’s really helped me. So seeing my progression in the therapy was just like, hey, maybe if I could do this for someone else, it could change something.” Instead of working as a mortician, Hannah is going to help the living live better. She’s already been on the receiving end of therapy, and she knows what she has to do. And, she understands the benefits of therapy, much better than any outsider could.

Hannah, when asked about whether or not therapy is necessary for most people, hesitates and thinks a good deal before she speaks. She then wisely notes, “That’s one of the biggest things in my opinion that American citizens need as a whole: someone to listen.” It’s in the pauses she makes, those deliberate silences before she speaks, that give her words weight. It’s also quite obvious when we speak with her that she’s listening and listening deeply.

When asked what she would do if given a magic wand that she could wave and instill a change around her (or for herself), Hannah tells us that she would “give everyone self-love and hope. That’s what I would want to do.” And Hannah’s sentiments are believable because she is believable. She’s thoughtful. She thinks (and listens) before uttering anything. Her ability to listen and speak deliberately will make her an effective therapist, but as for now, these qualities make her a brilliant person – not a type or imitation – but a real, living being.

As for Meridian, Hannah has points of comparison, having been at a school in Arlington that was much larger than the high school here. She notes that the students and teachers here are connected in a profound way, whereas in Arlington, as populated as it might be, there seems to be a loneliness and isolation around it. Hannah listens (and hears) what’s good about Meridian. It isn’t lost on her.

When asked about why self-love is important to her, Hannah is quick to the point and doesn’t mince her words. She’s an effective communicator. “I grew up around a bunch of people who didn’t really value themselves and always were people-pleasers. And as I’ve grown from being 10 years old, it’s become more and more apparent to me how important it is to love and respect yourself. Not only for your mental health but your physical health as well. I’m not saying putting others first is a bad thing. But if you’re just constantly doing that, it can be your real weight on you. And it’s not necessarily the healthiest thing.” In her measured, thoughtful voice, Hannah speaks the truth. That wisdom not only comes from merely being open to speaking but being open to hearing and listening, to being open. Hannah will go on to do great things in the spirit of openness, and we couldn’t be more grateful to her for letting us talk with her, speak with her, and listen.

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