As I walk through this with Grace, I realize how my senior year at a high achieving suburban high school left its mark on my psyche. I still feel the angst of sitting in my senior seminar class listening to the college acceptance announcement read over the microphone broadcasting to the 400 seniors who was going where. I was accepted into several schools, but never submitted mine for broadcast because I felt less than. My schools were less than theirs. My scores were less than theirs. My rank was less than theirs. My accomplishments were less than theirs.
|Driving through Waterbury at sunset|
It is silly that I still can recall this angst with such clarity. It is silly that I never realized my own worth and that it had nothing to do with college or school at all. I thought that if I just did it all "right" everything would be okay. Right classes, right extracurricular, right career choice, right life goals. It's such a naive approach to the world and yet for the most part the choices I made, some "right" and some not so right, led me to where I am now, which is perfectly right.
All these feelings come up when I am visiting schools with Grace. I could so easily be that "super Mommy pancakes" mom, who is really just my 18 year old self, following around the tour guide like a puppy, asking all kinds of questions, wanting to prove I was good enough for their school. Grace is not like me. She is so centered in herself. She knows who she is and what she wants. She already sees herself as a photographer, school is just an extra. She sees school as an opportunity to mature with photography, have experiences with other college age kids, and develop her vision. She wants to join the ski club, the Bible club and perhaps take pictures for the newspaper. She wants to hang out in the student lounge and was super excited that there is both a Starbucks and a Moe's the exit before the school. She has no sense of comparison. Her friends are looking at schools like Vanderbilt, Penn State main campus, RIT, and more and she is genuinely happy for them. It is just not what she wants. When I ask her why this is not what she wants she replies:
- I want to sleep in my own bedroom.
- I want to be able to attend my own church.
- I want to be with my dog.
- I want to have my instruments. A piano is hard to bring to college!
- I want to keep my lessons with Rob (her piano teacher).
- I want to keep my Saturdays with Dad.
- I want my life to be my life, just with a few more classes.
After the holidays we will go back to this school to visit during the day, when he quad is busy with students and the classrooms are humming with activity. She wants to see the photography lab and the equipment. Ask questions about the program, what kind of photography the professors specialize in, the goal of the program, and what students go on to do. She needs to know about technology requirements, if she can use her own equipment, and if equipment is available through the school. What happens at graduation? Is there a portfolio review? A chance to meet professionals? Mentorship/apprentice/
This is an exciting time. I am grateful that she can make these choices independently, without the confusing aspect of peer pressure. When she was young, just a toddler, I vividly remember wanting to pull my hair out in frustration over not knowing how to parent this strong willed, independent child. I told myself over and over that the qualities that made her a challenging little person, would make her a pretty incredible big person. Whatever she decides, wherever she goes, she will go forth with confidence and determination to conquer her goals and achieve her dreams.