Someone I coach recently heard that she had not been accepted into their first choice college. This is the advice I gave them about dealing with disappointment.
Do you know who Lisa Loeb is?
I wanted to go to Brown University. I had a friend from Chicago who was already there. In hindsight, I can no longer remember why it was my first choice. That was 37 years ago, and I did not keep good notes about my thought process at the time.
Years later, I discovered that the singer songwriter Lisa Loeb went to Brown, and we would have been there at the same time, if I had been admitted. In my mind, I was absolutely convinced that if I had gone to Brown, we would have met and fallen in love only to have her break my heart. Then I would spend the rest of my life avoiding her music.
If you are not familiar with Ms. Loeb, she became famous for the song “Stay.” In some alternative universe, that song could have been about me. Though more likely me singing that to her…if I could sing…anyway…I dodged a bullet by not getting into Brown. I just did not realize it for 30 years. By not getting in, I avoided having my heart broken by a major recording star.
Paths Taken and Not Taken
I was accepted to Bowdoin in Maine and Pomona in California. My sister and her family lived by Pomona, and it would have been great…near family I liked. But I did the math and figured the difference in tuition between there and the University of Michigan was a lot to help pay for grad school, so I went with my “safety” school, the in-state flagship.
As a result of that choice, I met my first wife, who put me onto a career path in computers that led to my current career in higher education. In the end, I would never have met my coachee if I had gotten into Brown, and this story would have never been written.
We do not know what could have been or what will be.
How to Have a Bad Time in College
The summer before college, I met someone. I did not expect to fall for her. She had 1 year left of high school. I fell hard. When she came to Michigan to celebrate my birthday (three weeks after dropping me off there), I could tell something was…