Stupid Advice

Well-intentioned parents, guidance counselors and others will at some point, if they haven’t already, tell you, Don’t worry!  Don’t stress out!

I always thought this advice was stupid.

Seriously, who would be stressed if they could help it?

Don’t stress out, Samantha.

Oh, Ok, thanks.  I hadn’t thought about that.  I want to be this way.

Why shouldn’t you be a little anxious, anyway? You’re future is unclear.  You’re encountering uncertainty about a major decision.

Plus, unless you’ve been living in a cave, you’re slammed in the pie-hole daily with reminders about the high stakes of the college “deal.”

Maybe you went to visit a competitive college recently, and sat in on a prospective student “information session.”

Remember meeting that 1/8th Comanche, Intel Finalist with the Olympic Silver in Rowing, 2380 SATs, 17 APs (his school offered 18 but he had a conflict with the syndicated radio show he created and hosts) who was born without a kidney and is legally blind?

Wait listed at Stanford.

The scene at your local high school isn’t exactly “relaxing.”  Chances are you’re confronted with things like:

  • Overburdened, sleep-deprived kids loading up on AP exams and extra-curriculars designed to “package” themselves favorably for top colleges

  • Kids spending their precious moments of down time on $250 per hour SAT tutors (whose names are often shrouded in secrecy by parents who don’t want to disclose this info, lest other, competitor-kids get the same “edge” that they think theirs have)

  • Hyper parents trolling message boards like College Confidential in the wee small hours of the morning, then sharing their new discoveries the following day with their kids, on the soccer field, wherever (A valedictorian Intel Finalist from Chappaqua with a 2400 got waitlisted at Vanderbilt!)

  • Non-top tier colleges like Drexel eclipsing the $65,000 per year barrier.

But you CAN manage your stress.  “Compartmentalize” it, meaning, put it in its place, where it belongs.

Bruce Lee, the martial artist, talked about visualizing his problems on a piece of paper. He’d then picture himself crumpling it up and tossing it away.

Sound simplistic?  It does to me too.  But it works.

Getting your shit together will also help.  Meaning that if you feel overwhelmed, or have so much crap loaded up that you don’t know where to start, you will start feeling better instantly when you get off your, ahem, derriere.

Here’s what I mean.  Make a list of all the shit you’ve got to get done.  (I recommend an old fashioned legal pad and pen, but if you prefer thumb typing your notes, so be it.)

Then, go through your list and identify the top three, or five most important items.

Then DO ‘em!

(That last directive, “do” it, is the most important.  Nothing happens until you MOVE.  No more analysis paralysis, over thinking or complaining.  Your work won’t get done by itself.)

Here’s another technique.  When you’re stressed about a grade, test, project, etc., ask yourself, What’s the worst that can happen?

Let’s say you get a C on a test, or don’t get into Yale.  So what?

Are you sentenced to a life of loser-dom if you don’t get into your top choice college? Far from it.

Modern history is loaded with examples of successful, famous people rejected from their top choice schools:  legendary investor Warren Buffet, longtime news anchor Tom Brokaw, Nobel Laureates and numerous accomplished, productive folks.

History is also littered with successful people who never even went to college:  Rockefeller, Carnegie, Zuckerberg and Gates (OK, they went to Harvard before dropping out).

So go ahead and feel stressed, but make sure you take steps to put stress in its place.


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