It’s easier in August to deny or delay the beginning of the school year, even though some schools begin mid-month. But after Labor Day weekend it’s officially “back to life, back to reality” and that means schedules are changing, workloads are enhanced and the stress level escalates.
And while some stress is helpful, too much stress is not, especially when you’re involved in something that needs a lot of creativity and brain power. Add to that, a process like applying to college that also includes a bit of fear of the unknown and you’ve got a recipe for ultimate overwhelm.
I know, both logically and intellectually, that slowing down, taking a step back and allowing time to regroup and look at things from a broader perspective is a great way to quell the overwhelm and stress loop, but that’s easier to say and harder to do. And, like with most things, it tends to be easier to coach or guide others to do something than to take our own advice.
Fortunately, in the midst of helping students with their applications, the essay affords the opportunity for the student to pause and reflect, explore things from a broader perspective and in turn, reminds me to do the same! And that’s why it’s one of my favorite parts. Like most things we do, the most rewarding results come from what we learn by how we go through the process, not just what we do.
It’s what happen in between the work that provide those moments of discovery! Supporting my students to take the time to pause and reflect produces the moments of realization and intuitive brilliance that will support them long after they submit their final application.
And very often, in that split second, it creates an epiphany for me that results in a new way of looking at something that benefits me and ultimately future students.
That’s exactly what happened to me recently! It was a small thing that could have easily been missed. I noticed that of my students labeled her first draft as “take 1” instead of their “first draft”.
I could have easily missed the intuitive brilliance of that turn of phrase. And brilliant it was!
Especially in terms of the themes of perspective and self-reflection.
When a director yells “take 1”, they do so understanding and expecting that there will be several, if not many more “takes” to follow. That first take provides the actor and the director the basis to evaluate what was done and decide how to approach the scene the next time.
More than a few of my students have said that they felt a lot of pressure writing the first draft of their essay. When I started to label it as “take 1”, they understood that the expectation was more about “getting their initial thoughts down on paper” so they had something to work from.
That broader perspective took away the pressure and stress of having to “get it right the first time” and relieved the anxiety of “messing up” or “making the wrong choice”, which is totally counter-productive to the creative process.
From a “meta” perspective, it is fascinating to think about how the “take 1” philosophy can be applied in all aspects of our lives. Instead of the “only chance to get it right”, it’s the beginning of many chances. And, for that matter, one could even argue that it’s the willingness to question and challenge the initial response that leads to new discoveries or ways of doing things. Using the information and experience you gain from the previous situation provides “material” to build on and choose what you want to do for your “next take”.