I woke up this morning with a pit in my stomach.
School is starting and I had a dream that I couldn’t find all the forms I needed to turn in for registration.
It’s the grown up take on a childhood nightmare. You are late. You missed the test. You failed.
Oh how we run from failure our whole lives…don’t we?
It starts early. It begins in school when we start getting report cards…when we start getting graded on our performance.
Some of this is good, I liked to get good grades and I’ve always been a rule follower. I’m not in school anymore but for now, this sense of responsibility keeps me doing the things that need to get done like laundry and paying bills and feeding my family. Honestly, there are days I’d rather watch TV and eat chocolate. So learning how to get going and do stuff is very important. We need rules and structure and expectations.
But some of it, this grading, shaming, pressuring, fear based nonsense that goes on in our schools…some of it is just crap.
Here are some things I want to tell my kids but I’m afraid to say them because then the jig might be up on the “grades determine your future” threats that I will be using to get them to do their homework.
But here are some truths:
The world is run by C students. At a certain point, grades don’t matter. People want to hire people and hang around with people who are fun and interesting and kind and creative and intelligent. Some of the kindest, most intelligent, creative, fun, interesting people I know struggled to get good grades in school. This did not mean squat when it came to accomplishing their dreams.
Confidence is very important. Hold your head high even when you don’t have a clue what you are doing. Assume everyone else is doing the same.
If you get into Harvard, good luck paying for it.
You may spend years getting an advanced degree from a fancy school and still end up jobless and living at home. This will infuriate your father and me. Consider this not okay.
The sooner you get a job doing something the better off you will be in life. Empty trashcans, clean houses, babysit, mow lawns, wash dishes…do something. Actually, try everything and see how hard it is to really work.
The world doesn’t owe you anything. Humble yourself now so it will be easier later.
A cell phone isn’t free.
All that stuff you are doing for fun now on the Internet? Try to parlay it into a career. Or better yet, invent something new and buy your parents a vacation home.
Spending time in nature is not a waste of time. Feed your soul. Talk to God. Spend time alone.
Stop watching reality TV. It is a waste of time and it’s not real. Except Real Housewives of New Jersey…that is truth.
No matter how desperate you are, don’t ever go on The Bachelor. It would embarrass me much more than it would if you brought home a C on your report card.
They are going to ask you what you want to do for the rest of your life when you are 18 and entering college. Heck, nowadays they may make you decide in junior high! This is total BS. No one knows! I STILL don’t know what I want to do when I grow up. Smile, pick something, hold your head up and try it. When you change your mind and your major the next year, don’t worry about it. Dad and I understand. Have fun figuring it out. There are so many exciting things to try!
On that note, try new activities at all ages. Just because you didn’t belong to the Country Club and practice golf with a pro from the age of 3 doesn’t mean you can’t learn to golf as an adult. No door is shut. Same thing goes for tennis and sailing and yoga and hiking and running and biking and soccer. Okay…maybe not soccer. You should have started that earlier.
If you are in a situation that calls for you to be either “right” or “kind”…choose kind. It’s always more important.
Money has nothing to do with happiness. Be authentic and love with your whole heart. You can be broke and blissfully happy when you do this.
Having said all of this, good luck this year in school. If you don’t get straight A’s, we will be taking away your cell phone.
©2013 Sue Bidstrup, Great Big YES™ All Rights Reserved
A lot of this post was obviously written tongue in cheek. However, I am gravely concerned about our kids and the pressure they are under to perform and meet unrealistic expectations in school and in sports and extracurricular activities. If you have not had a chance to watch “A Race to Nowhere” please look at the trailer here and then find the movie in your area so you can watch it. www.racetonowhere.com Our kids are suffering. We know better. Let’s do better.