Last night I stayed up late talking to my rather upset daughter Meg. She is a senior in high school and based on the amount of ice cream consumed in the past couple of days, she is a very stressed young lady.
Together we sat on her bed and rather than reading a sweet bedtime story like days past, we talked about the cold, hard realities of her life at this moment.
GPA, Class Rank, SAT, ACT, AP… all these numbers, and all these distinctions, are driving her nuts and causing her to think less about herself. Like somehow she doesn’t add up.
Sadly, it isn’t just in the autism world we have labels and distinctions and this’s and that’s.
Oh Dear God what are we doing to our children? What are we doing to each other?
The pressure to perform that we put on children is ridiculous. It just is. Last year I got an email from Meg’s school notifying all volunteer parent monitors of the AP tests that we were not allowed to bring our laptops to the exams. Apparently the College Board has discovered, in attempts to get better scores, some ADULTS have been using their computers to help students cheat. Really.
It’s just not worth it.
Nothing you have to cheat for is worth it. Nothing that you have to think you must be perfect for is worth it. Nothing that makes you feel less than whole, less than worthy, is worth it.
It just isn’t.
And that’s what I told Meg last night.
Stop trying to be perfect and just be yourself.
“But all the stupid things I did, the mistakes I made in 9th and 10th grade…” she said.
“You were a child my dear and what you call “mistakes” are actually your life lessons and what matters is not that you made mistakes, but how you learn to respond to them and to so-called failure and any college that does not believe that and cannot see the magnificent person you are, well, that is not a college you want to go to.”
“But my GPA is a sucky 3.74…” she said.
“First of all, your school is challenging. It didn’t get to be the number one ranked public school in the state by being easy. And you took chances, you make mistakes.” I pointed out. “You were curious about Mandarin, so you took the class. It was hard. You didn’t do well. Forget for a moment GPA points, you LEARNED. You learned about trying something new, reaching out of your comfort zone, getting in over your head, but sticking it out. You may not see it now, it may not be reflected in your class rank, but dear, there is so much more depth to who you are than numbers that add up to 3.25.
“But Meg, more than anything, you CARE about what you do. You put your heart in it. And caring will not only get you to where you want to go, but will provide you more internal satisfaction than any externally derived number ever will. Don’t stop caring, don’t let judging, labels and confining, conforming systems ever stop you from valuing yourself. That is a life well lived. That my dear is success, and that is exactly what you are.”
And with that my girl lightened up just a little and with a kiss to the forehead I bid her good night.
And speaking of success…
It has been a year since I started my blog.
I had no idea what I was doing, still don’t, but I really love doing this. I love sitting down at my computer and working to weave stories that may resonate with others. I love that I have the opportunity to share my experiences, be it two decades of autism or how I’ve learned to remember to laugh. It feels good to share with you, and as I told Meg, IT FEELS GOOD TO CARE.
I care about this blog. And I care about my readers.
To everyone who has visited, liked, commented and followed… I sincerely thank you.
Overcoming my own fears of failure and putting my thoughts “out there” for others to read has been huge and with your support I have been able to do so. Your reading makes my efforts complete. For writing is just like the cupcake in the above image, it is not until someone consumes it that it truly becomes delicious.