Analogies are a great way to teach lessons, but they all break down at some point. I think the point at which the "life/race" analogy breaks down is the point at which we are all made to feel that we are racing
against each other.
To quote my kids, "that's messed up, yo."
I've heard, and said, for a long time that our kids are growing up in a vastly different world than the one we grew up in. Nothing brings that idea more into focus than having kids in high school. I remember having a high school counselor, I think I met him once. I vaguely remember him saying something to me about "dance not being a stable career choice" and "had I considered other options?" I also remember taking the SAT and ACT and applying to college. I don't remember feeling like if I didn't have a solid 10 year plan for my life come graduation that I was basically doomed to spend the rest of my life asking, "would you like fries with that?"
This is the reality for my kids though.
Now, I am NOT, in any way, downing on their counselor. She is a terrific lady who has been amazingly helpful to us in our transition from Michigan to Virginia. But, I am saying, they have seen her several times already and will continue to see her. I have met her on several occasions, and her email is one of the top 10 on my list. I'm grateful for her, she is great at her job. I appreciate that the school is taking an active interest in the future of my children and doing their best to help.
The part I don't like is that they are inadvertently made to feel like they are falling behind in life if they haven't been accepted to 10 colleges by the end of their junior year. I don't like that they are made to think they have to know what they are going to do with the rest of their life by the time they turn 18.
I remember what I thought about life when I was 18. Um, it wasn't exactly true.
I remember thinking about how my life would unfold. It hasn't worked out exactly like that.
Although I was accepted to college with a full ride scholarship, I didn't go.
Instead I spent 3 years touring the world with a dance company, went to Bible school, got married and had 5 babies. I stayed at home with them for 16 years. I did some homeschooling. I taught dance. I volunteered at too many places to mention. Now, all my kids are in school and I'm working in a field I never even considered before the opportunity presented itself.
My life has not followed a predictable pattern, but it has been so rich.
I am so glad that I didn't miss out on what I have experienced because I was trying to race with someone else. I'm so grateful that I was surrounded by people who encouraged me to follow my own path. To be sure, it hasn't been a super smooth path with no bumps, but it has been mine. I don't regret walking on it.
To my kids, and all the kids of this generation: you are in a race yes, but not against your neighbor. The race you are running is yours and yours alone. Don't be afraid if your path doesn't match the person next to you - be afraid if it does.