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Are you looking through a peephole?

“You’ve got to help James.” Is what I heard from a mom and sister last summer.

“I’m intrigued. What’s going on?”

“He’s not doing anything. He’s picking schools because of other people. He has no plan, and he’s just not doing anything.” Sister’s voice is tinged in annoyance and disgust. I mean really, why can’t he just get it together, her tone conveys.

“O.k., we’ll sort him out; send him to me.” I reply.

James was cajoled, bribed, or threatened; I know not which but eventually, he arrived to me. All he knew in the way of direction was that he liked math. That was it.

We completed his Assessments and I produced a list of colleges that would be a good fit for him – ranging in selectivity, so he had a range of possibilities; but each would be a good fit for him in its own way.

James took his list and went on his way. “How is James doing?” I inquired. “Nothing is happening.” Mom replied.

“Send him back to me”.

Now, we sat down together and did virtual tours of the schools on the list. I explained why I thought each would be a good fit for him, what they offered and how the school related to his personality type, skills and interests. James provided his feedback, and from there we got a manageable list of 8-10 schools for him to apply.

James really really liked one school in particular. He liked it so much he asked his parents to take him to see it.

Now, this is a big deal because prior to this, James was only looking at schools in his backyard. This school was 5 hours away. Up until this point, he hadn’t considered this school or even knew it existed.

His parents, sensing his interest, took him on the 5-hour drive to visit the school, and guess what? James loved the school. It became his # 1 choice.

James developed his own ranking system, a chart on his wall, with little notes to help him remember why one scored high or low. One prestigious university near him had a garbage can notation on it. (This is a very personalized process).

Fast forward a few months and applications, James got into his # 1 choice and got scholarship money to make it a real possibility.

Here’s the thing:

We all get comfortable in our self-created little worlds. We build them, we construct them, and we convince ourselves that we know all we need to know. Knowing that we don’t know things is an uncomfortable feeling. It’s like standing in your well-appointed apartment, looking out the peephole and thinking, everything is right in your world, that you know everything. You don’t.

Sometimes, you give yourself the nudge to ask for help, or to look for information beyond what you can see. Sometimes the universe or another person pushes you to. But ultimately, it’s up to each of us to always be looking for what we can’t see on the other side of the peephole, to not be afraid to look and to ask others for help when we can.

I don’t know how it will work out for James, but I do know, even now, his world is broader and richer merely by knowing something exists that he didn’t know before. How can that not be a good thing?

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