Friday, June 27, 2008
Burning Rings of Fire
I recently had a conversation with my son, Josh, who told me he was weary of people asking him where he attends college. When he tells them that he is not in college but works full time, they look at him expectantly and ask, "But you're going to go to college, right?" Josh goes on to explain that he has taken several college classes, but with his various learning challenges it has been much harder and more time consuming for him than it is for most people. Given that experience, he does not want to take more classes until he is sure of what he wants to do so that he can make every bit of effort count toward a goal. The people who are talking to Josh share the expectation that bright, young adults who can go to college will go to college. Josh told me that for him, going to college seems like jumping through burning rings of fire to get a little piece of paper at the other end. Stop and think about that for a minute. If you know something is going to be that difficult and potentially painful, you think long and hard about whether it's what you really want before you go forward. Furthermore, you consider other options and devise strategies that increase the likelihood you will succeed. Josh is doing exactly that as he works, writes science fiction novels in his time off, and stays away from the burning rings of fire until he is sure he cannot attain his goals unless he moves through them. I think that's pretty good problem solving for a young man who knows himself and his strengths and weaknesses. Perhaps he will take more college classes someday, but for now Josh is making the decision to put that on hold and develop himself in other ways. A lot of people would benefit from taking such a thoughtful approach to why they do what they do, and to what end.