We’ve entered the time of my oldest daughter, Abbi’s, life where we start looking at colleges and filling out what’s called a “common application”. This is a collegiate application that is basically like a form letter that most the colleges will accept. That way kids aren’t filling out applications for lots of other colleges.
Part of that application process is a requirement that they write an essay. In it, the student has to give an indication as to why they want to go into the major they’re choosing. Abbi decided that she wanted to go into drama, which wasn’t an easy decision for her. She’s always loved it and years ago said that she wanted to go into acting, writing, directing, and drama. When she did, her mother convinced her that the unknown was . . . well . . . unknown. Pharmacy or medical school – those were the logical choices for someone Abbi’s age.
When Andrea passed away, she was still convinced that Andrea’s advice was the most sound. She’d started looking at schools for pharmacy, even considering Nebraska, as it would be close to her grandparents. It was something that she thought was logical. On top of that, it was safe.
But along the way she made another decision. I knew about it, we’d had lots of discussions.
This weekend Abbi asked me to look at her essay. The requirement was that they write about a life changing event, something that helped them make the decision to go to their school and have that major. Abbi had what you might call an obvious choice, but in the midst of it all, she talked about something else. She talked about how she’d resigned herself to be in medicine, that her mother had told her acting was a good hobby but not worth doing full time. She talked about how she was convinced this was the best way to go.
But it wasn’t just her Mom’s death. When Andrea passed we had to leave our house. While that was something that Abbi was satisfied with, where she saw her mother around every corner, knowing we had to leave, with only a month’s time was rough. Add to that she realized how stressed I was with having to leave my job and suddenly everything was in a tizzy. We had to change schools for her. She had to make new friends.
But as much of a maelstrom as Abbi’s life had become, it also brought her life into focus. The other advantage – being with my father and mother. While my father is very private and I don’t write much here . . . I feel safe in saying that he steered her toward the focus not the storm. He told her the dreams you don’t pursue are the ones you’ll never realize and always wonder about. She’d been toying with the idea all this time, and I told her I’d stand by whatever she wanted to do. By the end of summer she was convinced. Safe wasn’t smart it was . . . well, safe. But she was looking at the world the way Andrea did – sacrifice your dreams for sure stability. Give up your dream for the money that comes with a career. It’s opposite of how my father and I think. We both always thought if you work as hard as you can and learn all you can about your chosen path then you’ll be successful.
Success, you see, isn’t measured in dollars and cents or in the hours you work. It’s measured in happiness. Abbi closed her essay saying how she came to the realization that it’s OK to do what makes you happy.
You only have one life, after all, and she’s young enough that if she doesn’t make it or isn’t happy . . . she can do something else.
And she can know that we will all always be here. We’re stronger together than when we’re apart.
And happiness is the best currency of all.