With the weather turning balmy I’ve been doing more walking in our neighborhood. A month or so ago our neighbors put in this beautiful new garden in front of their house, a lovely arrangement of plants, flowers, a stone path and a sculpture of this big turtle. Every time I walk by it I smile at the grin on the chill turtle’s face. Pretty soon after they’d planted it I would see my neighbor out in front taking care of it. Every time I walked by. It became the running joke that I needed a hobby and she was becoming garden obsessed.
By the third day I finally asked what it was that motivated to get out there each day. “The damn clover” she told me. Now – to be fair, I should have known that pretty much any answer she could have given would have met with my clueless stare. I have by all accounts a black thumb when it comes to plants. In fact, I’m pretty sure if they bottled me I’d be the world’s best weed – and plant – killer. When I was pregnant my neighbor at the time, who was a masterful gardener himself, asked, “Do you think you’ll be more successful keeping kids alive than you have been with your plants?” Considering my track record, it was a fair question.
So, I know nothing about clover. Except that it’s green. And to my uneducated eye, pretty. No, my neighbor informed me, it will take over if you don’t root it out. The roots take hold and … I’m not sure what else. But all I could think was, it was the perfect contrast against the rest of the garden. It looked nice and fit really well with all the other plants they’d chosen. She wasn’t sold – and each day she or someone else in the family was out in front weeding the clover out that had somehow magically made its way back in the moonlight. I couldn’t help but wonder – it’s my inclination to pull for the underdog no doubt – if there are benefits to clover, and apparently there are.
What struck me was how much of this ‘rooting out’ of the things that seem to belong – but we’d rather they didn’t – many of us do in our own lives. The things we’re good at or drawn to or feel strong doing – but don’t think they will do much for us. I remember going through one of the personality tests at work years ago – and what emerged from the color coded system was that my strength was “earth green” – caring, encouraging, sharing, patient and relaxed. But the company’s leaders were mostly ‘fiery red’ – competitive, demanding, determined, strong-willed and purposeful.
My green felt weak in comparison – so rather than tapping into how to make the most of who I am, I instead focused on being more “fiery red”. I wanted to be one of the people considered “high potential” who would be seen as a valued future leader – and my assumption was I simply couldn’t do so by leading with encouragement, compassion and patience.
It didn’t go all that well. Could I do it? Sure. Was it harder? You bet. Did I enjoy it? Not particularly. And what I lost in the process was the person people had come to know – the leader who created a great team by knowing people well enough to help them find their fit. Who created an environment where people smiled, laughed and went the extra mile for each other while exceeding the results they thought were possible. Who shared wins and struggles so everyone had the chance to learn from both.
Quick point here – what I’m not saying is to be oblivious to the team and organization you’re a part of – the norms, behaviors and “what good looks like” of your colleagues. Fitting in matters. And what each of us brings also matters. A garden full of clover isn’t what my neighbor is going for – and I don’t blame her. But I can’t help but wonder what would happen if she let some of the clover remain sprinkled in there – since clearly it wants to be there. Maybe there’s more good that it can offer than is readily apparent.
College. A scary and yet exciting place to be. This is a time when you will grow and a place where you will learn. Going to college means to become more independent. It means to be free. But with great power, comes great responsibility…
Choosing a university can be a very long and tedious process. I remember feeling a lot of stress as I tried to decide what I wanted to do with my future. People at my school would compare their SAT scores, look at the rankings of the schools we were each applying to, and stressed about how we could’ve gotten a better grade in a class. We were all competing to prove who was the most academically qualified.
Looking back, if there is one major lesson I learned throughout the process it’s to always remain true to yourself. We each have our own unique paths after high school, and ultimately, in our lives. What I realize now is that it’s not about getting into the highest ranked school, but understand who you are and what is it that you are seeking to achieve in the next four years of your life. You want to find a place where you feel comfortable to be yourself and where you believe you are going to grow as a person.
Here are some more tips I want to share with you on how to mindfully choose the school that is right for you – and what I used to end up in a place that I really love.
I ended up going to Chapman University because it really fit with my personality and what I was looking for. The liberal arts education gave me more freedom to choose my classes based on my own interest. I also really enjoy the small community because it has made it easier for me to adapt to my new home. My friend, on the other hand, goes to Penn State and really enjoys the big campus environment. She likes the diversity and ability to meet new people from different cultures everywhere she goes. She also really enjoys the fun home football games that happen every other weekend.
Whatever path you may choose to take, I hope you find a place that matches with your own personality. Spend some time researching your different options available and connect it to your own interests. Each school will offer different doors of opportunities, but it is up to you to choose the one that feels the best for you.
If you have any other questions about college or even my transition from high-school, don’t hesitate to ask!
“All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.” – Walt Disney
I received a newsletter recently that spoke to me on a deep, existential level. The subject line? “I just want to give up and take a nap.” Naps aside (because we all probably need one), the feeling of wanting to give up is a strong one – and one that resonates with me.
The good news here is that I’m not alone. You see, this email from Girlboss spoke to a topic that’s gaining some unfortunate popularity: the quarter-life crisis.
Are we even allowed to feel crises when we’re so young? Often, the resounding advice from the world at large says “NO” – that millennials have it easy, we live in the land of opportunities, that we have so many resources and options within our grasp that we “should” have it made.
And yet, there’s that word. “Should.” We’ve talked about it a few times in this blog. The quarter-life crisis seems to come from all this pressure we feel stemming from what we hear we should do. Not whether we could or even want to; it feels so often like not only do we need to have it all figured out, but we also have to make it meaningful too.
But here’s the good news: just because you feel like you should doesn’t mean you have to. It’s absolutely OK to not have it figured out in your twenties, your thirties, or beyond – we’re allowed to make it up as we go along.
Here’s how I support myself when I’m feeling the pressure of the quarter life crisis:
Getting through the quarter life crisis isn’t really as simple as aging out of your quarter-life, unfortunately, but luckily the feeling doesn’t have to stick with you day in and day out. Remind yourself it’s 100% OK not to have it all figured out – I’ve yet to meet the person who does – and that it’s OK to make it up as you go along. I know I certainly am!
“Success is not final; failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.”