While driving around town last week, I heard a commercial by a university advertising the deadline for college applications is November. I thought back to my own sons and the stress and apprehension we all endured during the college application season. So often my sons’ angst was due to the large looming questions, “What are you going to do with your life” and “What is your major?”
Unlike most questions our children ask, this is one that we just can’t answer for them. When Ian and Devin looked at me with those big questioning eyes and the anticipation of an easy answer, I held my breath and replied “You tell me.” There was always a single moment when their hopes were dashed and they walked away more confused than before.
Then one day I remembered the poem, The Voice, from one of their childhood books Falling Up by Shel Silverstein. I pulled out the book, opened it to the poem and gave it to my youngest son. He was in the kitchen lamenting on his two choices: a) go to college out of town and begin to live an independent life, or b) attend school in Houston with his family and continue to pursue his music.
Within moments of reading the poem he had his answer. I swear I almost heard the archangels singing in chorus. He looked at me and conceded that he was torn between what people thought he should be doing and what he truly wanted to do. So he made his choice to stay in Houston where he attends the University of Houston and performs weekly in and around Texas with his rock band.
If you have a child struggling with the difficult questions of life, I suggest starting with the wisdom of Shel Silverstein. I think I’ll go home and tape it to my 11-year old daughter’s wall, so she will always listen to her inner voice.
There is a voice inside of you
That whispers all day long,
“I feel that this is right for me,
I know that this is wrong.”
No teacher, preacher, parent, friend
Or wise man can decide
What’s right for you — just listen to
The voice that speaks inside. – Shel Silverstein