A very dear and beloved friend of mine has a very kind, compassionate, and accomplished son who is completing his senior year of high school, and who had his heart set on attending a state university that he believes is perfect for him, which I shall call U of E (University of Excellence). He has a GPA of 3.9, an impressive list of A.P. courses on his transcripts, lots of extracurricular activity and volunteer experience to boast of. He is responsible, generous, goal-oriented, ethical, and extremely hard-working. In all of these aspects, he is just like his mother. He is currently studying abroad, and left instructions for his mom to check his email in anticipation of receiving word from U of E regarding his admissions status. She just received the email–he was denied admission. It is hard to imagine what went wrong with his candidacy; as a University professor myself, I can say that he is exactly the kind of student that many outstanding institutions of higher ed. court. He is certainly the kind of young man that most university faculty want to have in their classes.
Nevertheless, he will have to come home from an elating experience romping through Rome and Pompeii to a tough rejection that will feel to him like a dream crushed.
It might be tempting to offer advice like, “This is a tough lesson that you’ll have to learn sometime–we can’t always get what we want no matter how hard we work for it. Life offers lots of disappointments, and you have to learn how to make the best of them.” Maybe that is good advice. And, maybe it is true.
But, I would offer something else. Something like, “You feel crushed because you feel a gap between yourself and something you desire. But, I know something that may be hard for you to feel right now. I know that all the ingredients for a magnificent, happy life are inside of you. Every single ingredient you need, you already have. I know that if you turn your attention to your strengths, you will find that they will invite you to take the next logical step. And that step and the step after that and the step after that and so on will lead toward a life of accomplishment and magnificence and creation that you might not have been able to dream into possibility had you gotten what you want right now. You may believe that U of E holds and is keeping from you the key to unlock your future and your happiness. That is an illusion. The key to happiness is never to be found in something external to yourself. You can and will create no matter where you are. Creation is your destiny.”
I have every confidence that this young man will grieve and then make a brilliant future despite this seeming road-block to his destiny. But, this road-block is just that–only seeming to be. What really is is his brilliant potential for c0-creation.