Your experiences shape you, not your resume

In lieu of an angry, whiny article about the (still evil, imperial, and corrupt) Bush administration, this issue I come to you all with a pep talk. Seniors, this doesn’t apply as much to you right now, but feel free to read anyway. It’s third quarter. That’s the hardest one, in case you didn’t know. It’s when all your teachers know your potential, and they’re ready to load you up with big projects and tests. You’ve got the first half of the year wearing on you, but summer isn’t close enough to look forward to yet. On top of that, you might be taking the SATs or ACTs, or applying for National Honor Society, and you’ve just “chosen” next year’s classes. Now is the time of year when we all think about the future. No matter what you end up doing, there’s going to be something after high school. Freshmen, you’re almost 1/4 done with high school. Sophomores, you’re almost halfway there. Fellow juniors, only 1/4 to go. Have you accomplished what you wanted to by now? Are you satisfied with high school thus far? Would you be satisfied being judged by the paper trail you’ve left? Because that’s what’s going to happen. We’re going to be judged, even more so than we’re used to. Now, it’s not just the “high schooler” thing, it’s all the different subcategories of that. College is coming up. The “experts” in the student services office have told us that most of us will go to college. Will I get into the school I want to go to (which school remains a mystery to me, but I still worry)? Will you? What about money? Will we get the scholarships we need? And isn’t it reassuring to know that the people who will decide these things- the college admission people, the scholarship givers, and everyone else- will know you by little more than a number between 1 and 4, an essay, a resume, and how you filled in hundreds upon hundreds of stupid little bubbles. None of these people will know who your friends are. They won’t know what life is like at home for you. They won’t know if you get along with your teachers or parents. They won’t know what you do on the weekends. They won’t know the story behind this grade, or that grade. They won’t know about your life-changing experience, or when you found Jesus, or any of those other things about you that seem to be so important. But you will. And although, dearest reader, I might not know the specifics about you, I know all of those things exist for you. I know you are more than what you can put on paper. You are a human being, just like me. You eat, you sleep (though probably not enough), you breathe. You’ve had experiences that have shaped who you are and what you believe. And I may be wrong, but from where I’m standing, I think those experiences will have a much more profound effect on your future than all those little bubbles and words on paper. You’re not going to be elected President of the United States just because you put down student council on your resume. You’re not going to be the next LeBron just because you were on the basketball team. You’re not going to invent time travel just because of your 4.0. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure you can do all those things if you really want to, but you won’t be doing them because of what you put on paper during high school. So don’t worry about it. Maybe you won’t get in to Harvard or Yale, but does it really matter? Oprah went to a state university. So did Jimmy Carter. Nine of our presidents never even went to college. You’ll be fine. We’ll all be fine. You are more than words on paper, no matter what anybody else tells you. I promise. Now I only have to convince myself that it’s true.