The end of the school year is busy and dramatic, and then in a single day, as if in a dream it’s completely over and summer is upon us. During the end of year drama our leaders, columnists and bloggers wax on with advice to graduates about “following your dreams” and doing what you are “passionate” about.
That’s good advice, because once out in the world, you’ll be doing a lot of whatever you choose and it’s easier to do a lot of something if you are passionate about it. The problem is that today’s smart, on-task, motivated kids do so much jumping through hoops, that little time is left for recognizing, or nurturing dreams.
We’ve made sure our kids do not own a single second for themselves, and then advise them to follow their dreams. That’s just cruel.
AP and IB students have reading lists that reach from floor to shoulders. They must “have a sport, and “have an instument” and “have a language, (or two),” and commit to hundreds of hours of community service. Brother can you spare a dream?
Some lucky kids are naturally passionate about the things they are pushed to do, but most follow our demands for crafting their lives in a way that makes them suitable to college admissions personnel. In college they are advised to craft their lives in a way that is suitable to employers.
At what point do we allow them time to craft a life that is suitable to them, which we know is the only path to success. These ideas aren’t mutually exclusive but the conversation sounds different.
Many of our kids are passionate about doing well. The increase in AP courses and students applying to IB programs are proof. The “do well” lesson is getting through. They want to “get into a good college.” Beyond that, most have no idea what they want because they spend little to no time on anything of their own making.
So my advice to all the kids and young adults and anyone who has time off this summer is to slow down. Slow down so much you are bored. Navigate through the boredom and see what you do when you come out on the other side. That thing you do just might be the seed of your real passion.
This summer, take time to dream. Have your dreams follow you around. Then follow them. Allow the summer heat to seer your dream into your heart, because come the fall the orders will start coming from every direction, from people you love and trust and it won’t be long before you can’t remember you ever had one single solitary dream.
Remember college admissions and employers like people that know who they are.
Amy Donner is the immediate Past President of The Red Sunset Merchants Association, a 90 member not-for-profit business association with a mission to foster the economic interest of the area around Red Road and Sunset Drive. Amy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.