Lingering at the kitchen table after dinner, talking. There are only three of us -- our oldest daughter is at college now. Discussing in what colleges our youngest daughter, C, a junior, might be interested.
"So, C, what are you looking for in your college -- what's important to you?"
"I don't know -- I guess I want a college that has fun football and basketball teams to follow."
Laughter from my husband and me.
"That would be great to find a school like that, but what else do you want? Different colleges have stronger programs in certain areas than others. Could you give us a ballpark idea what you might be interested in? "
"I don't know. I mean, how am I supposed to know what I'm supposed to do with my life? I'm only seventeen, and still in high school. I don't even know what jobs are available. How can I choose what I don't know?"
More reassuring words from my husband and me. Talking about some of the colleges she's mentioned before, and what specifically she liked about those schools in more depth. Discussing where her friends are looking, and why. Sharing information about some "broad" majors she could possibly start with, and narrow her focus later. Organizing a trip next week to visit my alma mater (it's not on her list anymore, but it will be a good practice run). C actually generating some names of other colleges she'd been considering. Planning a few trips to colleges this summer. Fabulous conversation.
But then, after all that...
"What if I'm NOT one of those people who visit a college and just 'know' that it's the right one for them? Like K (her older sister) knew right away that DU was the perfect school for her. My friends have visited schools, and some of them already have found the one they love. What if I'm the one who never finds the school that feels 'right'? What if I choose a college, go there, and hate it?"
What I realized in that split second is that for all her bravado and her know-it-all attitude, when it comes to this subject, she feels insecure. Insecure about visiting the different colleges, insecure about finding the college that feels right for her, and insecure about knowing what she's going to be when she grows up. Insecure about all things that come after her high school years.
Note to self: remember this conversation in the next 12 months, and be cognizant of her feelings of uncertainty as she embarks upon this journey into higher education.
For other "Slices of Life", visit Two Writing Teachers.