When I was 16 years old and applying to colleges, I really don’t remember whether my parents were actively involved in the search process. They just encouraged me to pursue whatever my heart desired and let me take the reins with the application and decision making process. At the time, my ultimate goal was to pursue my love of musical theater and appear on Broadway. But the more I auditioned for acting programs, the more it became crystal clear that I was going to need a back up plan.
I was always a straight A student minus a few hiccups on the math and foreign language front and was an absolutely awful standardized test taker. But with a ton of extracurricular activities on my application – I mean, who could turn down the only girl trumpet player in her school – I ultimately was accepted at UMASS, pursued a major in Communications with a minor in English and graduated with honors. At 20, while working part time at a small PR firm, I attended graduate school and pursued a master’s degree in journalism at NYU. While I didn’t land a job at a magazine or newspaper, I followed a more conservative path and became a publicist. 25 years later, I’m still here and I’m still working hard to make other people famous. Not exactly where I wanted to be, but it’s still been quite an adventure.
In the blink of an eye, my daughter is now standing in my shoes and contemplating her future. It’s kind of insane that she’s the same little girl with the wide eyed expression who sang along with her favorite Princess Pocahontas at Disney World. Except this time, college is “just around the river bend.”
Next week, I’ll be taking my daughter on a tour of my alma mater and as much as I would love for her to fall in love with UMASS, I totally understand that it might not be the right fit for her. I know she will ultimately attend a school that fits her personality and independent spirit . What I have found over the years is that she and I don’t necessarily see eye to eye when it comes to her career path. As parents, it is so hard not to point our kids in the direction we think they belong but in my case, the more I push, the more my daughter retreats. I only want the best for her but there are times where I can tell she thinks I’m pressuring her to pursue something that she might not want for herself. At 17, there’s no telling what she’s going to make of her life but I know in my heart that if she does what she loves, the sky is the limit. She will just need to tune out the competition, the pressures and deal with the rejection in order to truly realize her destiny.
Let the college journey begin…