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Tuesday, February 19 , 2019, 7:17 am | Fair 35º

 
 
 
 

Louise Palanker: Going Too Far with a Bad Thing, Crushed College Dream, Career and Life Choices

Question from Serena

I did a bad thing this weekend. And not just a thing like sneaking out or smoking weed, but a serious thing that can get me in trouble with serious people.

Me and my friends had eaten a bunch of sugar before the “thing” happened and I wasn’t thinking clearly. In context to this story, when doing things that I shouldn’t be doing, I usually push the rules until it’s too late.

So, this guy I’ll call “Steve” has liked me for awhile. I try not to do this, but he basically does whatever I say and agrees with all of my opinions even when I know he really doesn’t. The bad thing that I did has to do with him. I’m scared that he will tell his mom and that his mom will call the cops. I made him promise/swear that he won’t tell but I don’t know if he will keep his promise.

People say that his mom won’t care, but what I did was serious and I don’t quite believe them. In the dark place inside of me I want everyone (even the cops and my parents) to know what I did so I could feel closure about the whole incident. Everyone at school is calling me stupid and judging me for something that lasted five minutes and happened when I wasn’t thinking clearly.

I don’t know what to do and I can’t eat or sleep. Please help before I do something drastic and complicate my life even more.

Weezy

I don’t know what you did or what you talked this kid into doing, but whatever it is, you went too far. You went so far that you terrified yourself — and that is a good thing.

It means that even though your acceptable behavior gauge was turned way, way up. It was not entirely broken. Once you hit its max, you reacted. You are shocked and shattered by what you were capable of doing.

This means that beneath all of your bravado and swagger you are kind, caring and full of empathy. This one event will allow you to adjust your own barometer. Never again will you humiliate others for your own amusement. Never again will you test devotion by twisting and bending it to see where it will break.

At the core of that behavior is deep insecurity. “How much does Steve love me? Why would he love me? I need to punish him for loving me.”

And Steve, as broken as you, was devoted despite your cruelty. Or maybe because of it. He probably believes that this is how he deserves to be treated.

The two of you were caught in a dangerous dance. You saw his blind love as weakness. You toyed with him because you had to see how far you could push him. The breaking point that you reached was not his but yours. You discovered how far you could push yourself.

What, exactly, were you capable of doing? You did not like the answer to that question.

“The dark place inside of you” that wants to expose the truth is not dark at all. It is lightness that is longing to shine. Secrets are corrosive. The truth heals.

It appears that the entire school knows what happened and we both understand how news travels. A parent or a teacher will find out. On top of which, you are haunted by this.

Do the right thing. Own it. Apologize and accept the consequences. Even if it involves law enforcement. You are a minor and if you take responsibility for what you did, the authorities will be inclined to work with you in helping you learn from your mistakes. The punishment for this offense will not be worse than what you are capable of doing to yourself.

If your actions went too far without killing or permanently harming anyone, see that as a blessing. So many people keep their foot on the accelerator until there really is no undoing what they have done.

It is time for you to come clean and do some deep introspection. You are ready to change, and that can and will happen once you fully apologize and vow that those five minutes, however disturbing, are serving as a much needed wakeup call.

This former bully waited 35 years to apologize to his victim. Learn from him:

(KITV video)

                                                                 •        •        •

Question from Kevin

I feel kinda sad ... I am not going to my dream university ... I didn’t apply because I know I can’t leave my mom alone. It is only me, my sister and mom. And I chose to apply to an in-state school so she wouldn’t have to stay alone.

Although the school I am going to is not my dream school. I just feel sad my plan for life isn’t going the way I want it to be ... Like I want to travel and go to a school and a dorm away from home, but it’s just not happening for me.

Weezy

When we are forced to make a choice between two very separate and distinct things, it is best to make that choice and to then resist torturing yourself with the “what ifs?” and the “should haves.” They are futile.

If your mother had said, “You are going. Do not argue with me.” and then put you on a plane, you would have gone. Instead, she may be making you feel like it’s your job to stay with her.

I don’t know all of the involved factors. I can’t tell you if you made the best choice. I can tell you that where a child winds up attending college has a lot to do with his or her parents.

Keep in mind that the college application process is entirely overwhelming for everyone involved. In most cases, the only way to get that plane off the ground is if the parents pilot the ship and the kid follows orders.

Think of all that is involved: Grades, transcripts, test scores, letters of recommendation, essays, costs, scholarships, loans, etc. etc. My sister and nephew went through all of it this year, and she created a spread sheet!

Any kid who gets him or herself into a four-year school, away from home on his or her own is my personal hero.

If your mom wants you at home, breaking away is not something you would have been able to pull off on your own ... this year ...

You may not be entering the school of your dreams as a freshman. But you can still graduate from that school.

If your mom is not ill or in need of your assistance, then you do get to grow up and live your own life and pursue your own dreams.

Often, 17 and 18 year olds have not yet fully grasped the concept of their own autonomy. It’s too fresh and new. The equation of family dynamics + fear + financial issues can keep them close to home ... for now. And that is OK. Give yourself two years to learn and grow.

The important thing is that you are going to college.

Where you go does not matter as much as your commitment to study habits, grades and creating an excellent transcript for transfer.

Do not just go to class and then drive home.

Get yourself involved in campus life.

Join clubs and activities.

Attend events and lectures.

Confer about your future with academic counselors.

As you go, you will meet people and share your thoughts and ideas. Possibilities and options will open up to you. This process will bring you closer to summoning the courage to go after your own adventure.

Should you so choose, you can transfer schools and matriculate from a community college into a four-year school. You are just beginning your adult life.

Don’t put yourself under too much pressure to get everything perfectly right immediately. All of life is a class. Lessons being learned build upon lessons already learned. Layer your lessons. You will find your dream.

Here is Frank Bruni, author of the book, Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be:

(CBS This Morning video)

                                                                 •        •        •

Question from Tyler

I feel really weird that I don’t know what I want to do when I grow up. All of my friends have everything planned out already. I’m only 12 so there’s no rush, but I feel like I should at least have an idea.

My parents and grandparents keep asking. I say ‘I don’t know.’ Truthfully I don’t. I don’t even know what’s out there yet. I know what I’m interested in. But for me it’s embarrassing because I don’t know how much money I would make (my dad is all about money :/) and it would seem like a stupid idea to everyone. IDK I guess this is just a vent.

Weezy

When I was 12 years old, I told everyone I wanted to be a teacher, when I really longed to go into the entertainment business. I grew up in suburban Buffalo, N.Y. Nobody I knew was going after a career in entertainment.

I was too shy to say my dream out loud. Also, I did not know what was possible in that field. I had no access to observing it in action.

So, I got my teaching degree, grew up, moved to L.A. and got into show business. I did this using internships as my toe in the door.

An internship comes with so many up sides. You will learn about your chosen field, meet fascinating people, demonstrate your work ethic, observe the environment in action, select a clearer career path, and master the fine art of balancing five coffees in one hand.

I held down three internships while working as a Hollywood page at a TV studio. I learned by watching and doing. I spilled a lot of coffee. I got yelled at. I wiped up and I kept going.

You can pursue any career that seems interesting to you. Go after your passion and work hard at it. Money should never be your primary goal. Yes, you do need to support yourself but after you have taken care of that, more money is only a bonus for a job well done.

Furthermore, you should not feel pressured to choose a career at the age of 12. More and more, I’m finding that people are not restricted to just one career. Many interesting individuals do many interesting things.

Take me for example (Very Interesting!): I got into television, then radio, then stand-up comedy, then filmmaking and now app and social network development, podcast hosting and advice columning. (Yes, I just turned a noun into a verb. I am interesting.)

And, now that I’m working with kids in my teen-targeted app, my podcast, this column and the stand-up comedy class I teach at the Jewish Federation of Greater Santa Barbara​, that teaching degree is coming in handy!

So, you see, everything you do leads to who you are. Most of us defy definition. If somebody asks you what you want to be you can reply with something like this: “I am interested in science and I love music. (Or you fill in the blanks.)”

Say one thing that will sound reasonable career-wise (like science in this example), and one thing that is your true passion. Then go on to say, “I will figure it all out along the way.”

Learn more about the value of internships via Gettysburg College:

(Gettysburg College video)

                                                                 •        •        •

Got a question for Weezy? Email her at [email protected] and it may be answered in a subsequent column.

Louise Palanker is a co-founder of Premiere Radio Networks, the author of a semi-autobiographical coming-of-age novel called Journals, a comedian, a filmmaker (Family Band: The Cowsills Story is currently airing on Showtime Networks), a teacher and a mentor. She has a teen social network/IOS app and weekly video podcast called Our Place, built around a philosophy of cyber kindness. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.

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