Have you ever seen the website, PostSecret?
It’s a fascinating site. People write a secret on a postcard and send it in anonymously. They select the ones they like and post them. It’s an art project.
Recently, one secret in particular stuck in my mind.
“I’m afraid of losing all my weight. What if I do and men still don’t like me? Then I’ll have no excuse.”
Wow. I’m sure we can all empathize and relate to the pain she’s feeling. But it’s obvious to us, isn’t it, that she should just go ahead and lose the weight. Objectively, there’s no downside.
It’s so easy to see when it’s somebody else.
I come across a related situation in my work, though it’s never said out loud.
“I know if I don’t put my full effort into studying for the SAT I won’t get my target score, yet if I study hard I’m still not guaranteed to reach my goal. So why bother? At least this way I won’t be disappointed.”
It’s pretty clear what he should do, right?
That’s because we’re on the outside. We can objectively see the situation for what it is. The student who feels that way, though, is experiencing real, powerful emotions.
It’s not only my students, though.
Nobody likes to see those we love getting hurt. When someone we care about takes a risk and exerts a great effort, we feel it, too, if it doesn’t work out.
I’ve even had a college counselors at an exclusive private high school say to me once, “I hate when an SAT tutor sets a high goal for a kid because they get so disappointed if they don’t reach it.”
Just something to think about as school starts and the first SAT date of the fall is 5 weeks away.