On October 12, 2009, I began writing one post here on the Collegewise blog every day. Today, exactly ten years and 3,653 daily posts in a row later, I write my final post.
I’ll admit to feeling like I’m saying goodbye to an old friend. Every day for the last ten years, good days, bad, and every day in between, the blog has been here through all of it, ready for me to write and share whatever I hoped would be blog-worthy that day. The technology that makes this blog possible might be inanimate, but the words that went into each post were not, and neither are the readers who’ve been here with me to read them. It feels very real to say goodbye to both.
But the emotion I’m feeling most overwhelmingly today is gratitude. What an extraordinary privilege to get to do this, to so easily put thoughts and words out into the internet universe and, over time, find an audience with whom they resonate.
I’ve heard from so many high school counselors over the years who’ve told me they start their workdays with coffee and my blog, professionals with whom I never would have connected were it not for this platform.
I’ve heard from parents who’ve read my posts through their own children’s college process. Some did so with two or three—and for one reader who reached out, four—kids. Some emailed just to say thank you and to tell me that while their family had finally aged out of the need to keep reading about college admissions, they were recommending my blog to their own friends with college-prepping kids still growing in the wings.
My parents, both of whom are in their late seventies, dutifully start each morning with my blog. They’ve forwarded entries to friends whose kids are going through the college process. Now that I’ve become a parent myself, I understand they’ve done this because parenting never really stops no matter how old your kids get. Mom and Pop, most of these posts didn’t have applicability for you. But you’ve been my most loyal fans for a lot longer than the last ten years. I hope you saw your influence as much as I felt it in so many of those posts as I wrote them.
Blogging has been a ten-year journey for me. And the readers who’ve shown up, whether for a single post or for years, arrived here because they were on a journey of their own. They were applying to college. They were the parent of a college applicant. They were a counselor or a teacher or an administrator hoping to make things better for the students or employees they served. None of us are going to play those roles forever. But our respective journeys intersected during this time, and I’m so grateful that they did.
Today, my final lesson learned from daily blogging is the one that’s taken me the longest to learn, and it’s been the most transformative for me. I hope it can be for you, too.
Lesson #31 of my final 31 posts: We’re all on a journey together.
One of the most important life skills we can hone is also one of the most difficult to practice in the moment: to see the distinction between what feels important today and what will actually be important many tomorrows from now. One way to do this is to think of life as a journey, one that each of us is on in our own way.
Students, how many of you recall a day in freshman year when you thought everything was falling apart, only to look back today and smile at your resilience and maybe even at your fourteen-year-old naivety?
Parents, how many times did your kid do something that drove you crazy in the moment but later became just a story, maybe even a funny one, you shared together? As my wise mother-in-law once said about a challenge my wife and I were facing with our then infant, “Someday this will all be just an anecdote.”
That presentation that flopped at work, that test that just didn’t go well, that unconstructive criticism that stung even though the critic didn’t know you or your work well enough to comment–you may have felt the weight of it on day one. But it’s comparatively light when you frame that day as just one tiny step on a much longer journey.
The perpetually disgruntled boss or the irascible neighbor or the student who shows you every day that they care a lot less than you do about whatever you’re trying to help them with, they become easier to manage when you consider that they’re on a journey, too. How did they get to this place? Who or what made them this way? And how can you best continue your own journey for whatever time it intersects with theirs?
The college admissions process is still spinning out of control as much as it was when I started this blog (and maybe even more so). But one of the best antidotes to it for both parents and students is to reframe it as just one comparatively short portion of a much longer journey. Everything from the grades to the test scores to the admissions decisions carries so much weight in the moment, but that weight diminishes over time. These students are in the earliest stages of their lives. They’re not who they’re going to be yet. And almost nothing that’s part of the college admissions process can permanently disrupt their chances for a happy, fulfilling, successful life.
Treating our life like a journey means that we zoom in and try to make the most of each day while also zooming out to see the bigger picture. It means we aren’t surprised when people behave badly or when things don’t go as we’d planned. It means we double down on the things that will matter for the long run and let those things go that ultimately just aren’t that important.
And when we embrace that view, both our days and our journey itself become more enjoyable and fulfilling.
To the students who read this, I hope you’re excited about your journey to and through college. You’ve got your whole life ahead of you, and you’re about to take your first truly independent steps. Work hard, treat people right, and trust yourself. Things will work out.
Parents, nobody gave us a manual on day one of this job. We’re all just doing our best. Give yourself the grace to occasionally get it wrong. And give your kids the same. You might struggle with the notion that your kids will soon be out on their own. But experience at Collegewise has shown me repeatedly that the best is yet to come for both you and your kids. When they depart for college, know that saying goodbye to this part of the journey as a parent is just the opportunity to begin the next even more enjoyable portion.
Counselors, you’ve earned the privilege of intersecting your professional journey with the academic and personal journeys of your students. What a gift you bring to them when you honor the path they’re on and try to help them find their way. They may not see and appreciate it today. But that’s only because they aren’t far enough along in their own journey yet.
We’re each on a journey, just doing our best as we go. Make yours better, and as much as you can, do the same for those who are important to you.
As I say goodbye, I have one final parting gift to resource to anyone who’s interested. I’ve bundled my final 31 posts into a free ebook, Work is Personal for the Person Doing the Work. I hope you enjoy it, and more importantly, I hope you share it with anyone who you think might benefit. It took me ten years and 3,653 daily posts to learn these lessons. I’d love to pass them along to people who might want to enhance their own lifelong learning curve.
Our journey together as blogger and reader is coming to an end. I hope you enjoyed this mutual merging of pathways we took together. I certainly know that I did, each and every day, for the last ten years.
Thank you for showing up, for reading and sharing, and most importantly, for letting me join you on this small part of your own journey.
With profound appreciation and gratitude…