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Present Over Frenzied

No one ever said living and working mindfully would be easy….

Are you getting sucked in? Sucked into the (unhealthy) college admissions frenzy. It’s easy to do. As much as I work toward mindfully guiding students through the college process, I, too, get sucked in from time to time. Seemingly desperate students often do everything in their power to get accepted into college like paying thousands of dollars for summer programs to give them a leg up in the college admissions game.* Students try to live up to their parents’ expectations and are made to feel worthless when they do not fulfill the dream of attending Harvard. It’s too much. After seeing this pressure and anxiety build among my students, nearly two years ago I made the decision to shift my business model (as well as my personal life) to focus on mindfulness.

Recently I got sucked in. I’m embarrassed to admit it but it’s true. (No one is perfect, right?) I lost sight of my mindful approach. I hear all too often from families that their child has to participate in international programs to improve their chances of getting into college. It becomes exhausting to explain over and over again that these programs are not necessary. So, while working with a student this past week, I allowed the frenzy to suck me in and taint my response when this student shared with me that they would be attending a program at a prestigious international university this summer. Instead of asking questions to learn more, I made a quick assumption. My first thought was, “This isn’t going to help get you into college. You can do something more to impact your local community.” I didn’t want them to waste money on such a program. I felt a pit in my stomach as this is a student who has tremendous abilities and has had life experiences which could be used to do really cool stuff in their local community. Why not find something locally?? (I get really excited when my students find creative ways to use their talents and skills to serve their local community whether it be planning a fundraiser, organizing a book drive, creating something unique that has never been done before to make an impact.)

Needless. To. Say. I didn’t feel good after this call. I had not shown my support in the way I normally would. I normally encourage students to do what “feeds their soul” and to practice authenticity. I had not practiced mindfulness. Following up after this call for further understanding (and explanation on my part) with my student and the parents, I learned that my student also wasn’t feeling great about our conversation. My student genuinely has interests in the subject matter being offered at this international program. I learned that my student binge watches documentaries on Netflix in their down time, learning as much as they can about the course subject that just so happens to be the subject covered this summer. This student actually signed up for this program TO LEARN. My student was acting in authenticity when applying for this program--the exact thing that I promote! Jaded and sucked in, I didn’t take the time to listen and learn. My heart hurt. I had failed my student. I had failed myself.

Why am I sharing this story? There are lessons to be learned…..

  • Take time to listen and learn.

  • No one is perfect.

  • Live and work mindfully.

  • Refrain from making quick assumptions/reactions.

  • Be authentic.

  • Be present.

  • Do NOT to get sucked into the frenzy. (And admit fault when necessary!)

Let this be a reminder to all of us to slow down. Be present. And not allow ourselves to get sucked into the frenzy of life (and the college admissions process)!

*Visit this Washington Post article to learn more.

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