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College Bound

Posted Aug 31 2012 9:38am

Last week, we dropped our son off for his first year in college.

It already feels longer than a week.

But I already hear on the phone how much the experience is starting to change him.

I know it is changing me. 

It is changing him because despite some texts and phone calls to get advice, he is navigating the new experience and making decisions about classes and activities. I hear him developing more confidence and independence. For me? I am feeling a deep satisfaction that all these years of work are paying off and he is doing what he is supposed to be doing—developing his own life. Yet I also feel a sense of emptiness as I see the changes in our family. As my children develop their own lives and interests, I need to make certain that I am continuing to develop my own. I can enjoy their successes but I can’t only live vicariously through them. I need to keep developing my own life as well.

When my daughter went back to school this week, her soccer coach asked the team to reflect on their view of success. How did they define it? That makes me think about success for my daughter, my son, myself and all the individuals that I work with in my practice. My daughter said that for her success was achieving your goals and trying to do your best. I asked her what happened if you tried to achieve your goals but failed? Sometimes we shoot for things that don’t work out.  

I don’t always badger my kids, but a recent Facebook quote made me think about this. It pointed out that trying and failing was better than not trying at all.

So….where does this lead us?

  • We’ve talked about change before—but it is always important to consider. Why? Because life is change. Every time you get attached to something—it changes. Journal about how you deal with change. What feelings does it bring up for you? What has been the best change in your life—why? What was the hardest change—why?
  • How have experiences changed you? Both positive and difficult experiences change us. Challenging ones help us know that we can survive. Write about what skills you used to get through. Once you identify them, you can use those same skills next time. Or if something didn’t work well…that’s important to know too. Maybe next time, you want to try something different.
  • Write about when you feel confident. What talents do you believe in? How can you work to develop those skills? Sometimes it is important to think about what you do well and realize areas where you might not excel. That can allow you to pursue and develop your own special talents. I can write better than I can draw. So I might play with my drawing.  But if I want to work to develop my confidence and skills, I probably want to pursue my writing. I need to understand where my talents lie. I tend to be quiet rather than able to carry on lots of small talk—okay. That’s me. I love to listen—I love to learn about others. Nothing wrong with that.
  • What is your definite of success? You need to think about that. Because if you feel that you aren’t successful—that will affect your view of yourself and your life. But, be careful. If you are aiming for perfection…well…hate to disappoint…that is not possible. Too many women whom I work with want to be perfect. We need to grab Project Heal’s motto and be “Imperfectly Perfect”. What does that mean? That your imperfections are perfect! You’re perfect by being you. You need to embrace your uniqueness. Write about what you see as your imperfections. Is there any way to embrace them as part of your imperfect perfection? Or if it is not something that you want to hold onto….then how can you improve on it? I am not the most organized person. So I can try to improve on that but may also need to pull in other help. What do you need help with? It’s okay. We don’t need to do everything on our own.
  • Finally write about what is important to you. What do you need to do to live your own life?

Go, Write On! and figure it out.

Martha Peaslee Levine, MD


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