Find Your Tribe
Ali applied early decision to the college she deemed her dream school. While I believe that there are many right fit schools for our seniors, I can't invalidate her hopes and vision for her next four years. We were traveling to Boston together when she received the email. She knew it would arrive at 2:45pm and was visibly anxious the entire ride. I turned around from the passenger seat as her face went from hopeful smile to fallen, just fallen and then tears. She was deferred until early decision 2.
This isn't a story about what I did next. It;s about the helplessness I felt at knowing there was no way to protect my 17 year old from the reality of the difficult college admission process and eventually the trials and tribulations of life. She is going to feel pain, rejection and loss. There is no boo boo bunny that can make it go away. That being said, I did climb into the back sear with her, which was no easy task as I was also navigating for Allaster on unfamiliar roads.
We were going to Boston for her to connect with her camp friends before they worked at the reunion the following day. I reached out, via text to Janet, my closest friend, who is also my camp friend and has been in my life for 40+ years. She texted back "she's got this amazing group of camper ninjas who will tell her that it doesn't define her and doesn't make her any less qualified to go to college etc, etc." Those words coming from her closest buddies will hold more meaning than from me. This may very well be the friend group that is there for future ups and downs.
The next day I had lunch with Janet, a rare treat but that was the advantage of driving Ali to Boston. She handed me a gift, a tribe necklace that came with the following words. "People come and go, but once in a while you meet certain people who know your are going to stay in your life forever, the ones you can talk with for hours, but still enjoy their comfortable silence, The ones that you can laugh and cry with, The ones that stick by your side, believe in you and help you remember who you really are ...these people are your tribe, love them fiercely. I realized that more than getting into any particular college, I want Ali to find her tribe. Life is going to be hard at some point for her and I won't be able to take the pain away. Her tribe will lessen the pain, support her and love her fiercely. That is all that matters.