If you missed the last post, this story is detailing the paths of a high school student, "Mike," who got poor grades and his prodigal sister, "Amanda." As is the course of nature, the excelling student is expected to achieve some vague concept of success, and Mike should end up enduring some vague concept of failure. Survival of the fittest, or, smartest.
On to the update. Amanda graduated with a degree from a private school close to home. She didn't know where to go or what to study, so her mother chose for her. She maintained her grades while trudging through undergrad and visited her parents on the weekends.
Mike went to one of the easier state schools, and he's in his third year now.
"It's great here," said Mike. "I can't believe I'm getting all these eye-opening experiences, and at the same time I'm learning practical skills for my career." Mike also has a job, and his grades have, slightly, improved.
I once asked Amanda what she wanted.
"A perfect, steady box life," she insisted. I thought this very odd, but if that's what she wants then she should go for it. I kind of forgot that there is no such animal.
Amanda's mother decided that Amanda should attend a medical school after undergrad. It made some sense; since Amanda isn't interested in anything, so why not just go for the job that makes the most money? So, just over a year ago, Amanda packed her bags and headed across the country to start a new adventure.
Mike is getting along better than I thought he would. He's taken leadership training at school and sometimes lectures me on the job market, business practices, communication and networking. He loves his major and is still considered a wild, curious and energetic guy by his peers. I think he'll survive when he graduates.
Amanda continued going through the motions to please her mother at her new school. I thought medicine would be a bad career choice, since Amanda fainted several times in anatomy class and whenever she saw blood, but perhaps she could grow out of it. I didn't hear from her until a few months ago, and what I'd heard second hand until then was that she was doing fine.
Several months ago Amanda came back from school, spectral and with nothing to say.
Summer was only supposed to last a few weeks for her before she was to do observation hours for study. However, she never went back. Eventually Amanda explained. A steady stream of tears building up, she told us how much she hated school, because it's too hard, the concepts are too gross, and she misses her family. Although the school granted her the option of taking a year off for mental health reasons before returning to study, she's sure she'll probably never go back.
"I was just so lonely," she said between stifled sobs. "I felt like I wanted to kill myself."
Now Amanda lives with her parents again. Some of her friends from high school have moved away, and she is too shy and scared to try and contact any of the ones who might still be around. Her major in undergrad was studying a language--not very useful for finding employment--and she is too shy and scared for any employer to hire her on personality. She has no passions, so she can't hold onto a hobby. She's in therapy now and on several anti-depressants and anti-anxiety meds. The one year of education left her $65,000 in debt.
I remind you, this prodigy was once assumed to have the brightest future. When I asked her what she's trying to do with her life now, she would only respond, "Just let me have my pills."
Not healthy, nor happy, nor wealthy or employed. In no parameters can I call Amanda's situation a form of success, while Mike's current life wide-eyed dreams are becoming more and more satisfying.
Take what you want from this story, whatever you want to learn, the story's all true. The reason I found this worth sharing was to illustrate what characteristics might effect your success. Amanda illustrates someone who could work hard and diligently, but has not a drop of music in her soul. Mike is fun and colorful, and although he does not work quite as hard to stay the straight and narrow, (to be specific, he's making B's at a state school) it looks like his diverse interests and multi-dimensional personality are leaving him a satisfying life. The overall moral I garnered from this story was that perhaps we put too much weight and faith on parental gratification, the reputation of your school, and grades.