Moving Through the Cycle of Change
The cycle of change has nothing to do with bicycles, or with what happens with quarters, nickels and dimes that always seem to accumulate all over the house (or in pockets of things!). No – the cycle of change is all about your emotions and what happens to them as you are trying to change. Change isn’t easy, and neither is sending n a good college application.
College = Change
Remember when you were excited about applying to college. You created this vision of what college life would be like, probably about all the fun things – football games, friends, living in the residence halls, or being on campus. Maybe you pictured yourself in classes and studying too. Or maybe not. Anyway, you had a vision that you were going to get to college.
That part, the time that you are all psyched to go is called “uninformed optimism.” At least that’s what it’s called in this emotional cycle of change I’m talking about. You see what it is you want to do, but you haven’t seen the path to get there, so when you start down the path, you realize there are a lot of steps to getting where you want.
There’s an essay you have to write, and you want to choose a topic that shows off something cool and unique about who you are. But you aren’t sure how to do that. Or you need to complete your activities list and you think, “I have had a few jobs since I started high school. Should all of those go in.”
And as you ask those questions, you start to move into the next phase, the phase of “informed pessimism.”
Hang onto your vision of college
The best thing you can do is keep thinking about your vision of college. You will get through the college application process (like many before you!). It may feel like you have a mountain to climb, but you can do this! Here is just one strategy to help you.
Don’t try to eat the whole salami
If you’ve ever seen a whole salami, or even something healthier like a whole head of cabbage, you know you’d never put that whole thing on a plate, tuck a napkin under your chin, and sit down to eat the whole thing. No! For the salami, you’d slice off a few pieces and put it on a sandwich, or dice up a few pieces to put in a salad or on a pizza. Same with the cabbage. You wouldn’t just bite into it and start in on the whole head. You’d chop it up and have some coleslaw, boil a piece for boiled dinner (corn beef, cabbage and potatoes).
Imagine the college application process in the same way. Pick one small thing to do first. Maybe you start by creating an account for the Common Application or the Coalition Application. Maybe you could start by brainstorming a topic for your essay. Or maybe you jump onto that application and fill in everything you are sure of – your name and address.
You’ll feel better, and like you’re moving toward your vision of being a college student with even the smallest of steps. You’ll also feel less overwhelmed because you are moving forward.
This is true for me as I work on this new website. If I think about all the things I want to do, I get overwhelmed and discouraged. But I know where I’m going because I have a great vision about the kind of information I can share. So I just take a few minutes each day to get one thing done. Sometimes I keep going after I get started, and other times I just do the one little thing that moves me toward my vision.
I know you can do the same! One small step every day and you’ll get there!