If you aren’t following blogger Lauren Sprieser through The Chronicle of the Horse’s series of online blogs, I really don’t know how you’re living your life right now – riding or otherwise. Not only does she dispense wonderful advice for dressage riders (like myself), but she simultaneously imparts life lessons to her readers that apply both in and out of the stable.
(Having taken clinics with Lauren and her mentor Michael Barisone, I can also attest to a wonderfully droll sense of humor that comes through in the written word. She and I definitely get each other.)
Her most recent blog entry really hit me where I live, though – more so even than usual – because she very literally could have been describing my riding life at the moment. In talking about finding the right balance between working young horses frequently enough to build muscle and train them to be grownups, but simultaneously doing so without over-working or over-stressing them, she wound up describing the in-between stages that we riders so often encounter when developing prospects. There’s a fine line between letting them grow up slowly to preserve their growing bodies and working them too much because we discover they have talent and we want to capitalize on it while they’re young. It’s a constant give and take and the balance constantly shifts as their needs and understanding develop.
In short, the space in-between everything exciting that happens is the hardest place to be – it means knowing when to push and when to back off in order to achieve ultimate success.
It’s also the hardest place to be when you’re a high school senior and it’s February.
Early decisions have gone out at this point and regular decision notifications are still to come. Some financial aid information has been shared but more is yet on its way. Campus visits happened rapidly in the beautiful weather of the fall, but winter hitting much of the country (as well as school starting back up after the holiday break period) has slowed people’s travel habits a bit.
What’s more, many scholarship opportunities have now passed their deadline, the first round of high school exams have wrapped up, and even though it’s basketball season, a lot of extracurricular activities are also currently curtailed.
In short, seniors are stuck between the flurry of application season in the fall and the frenzy of making a final college decision that’s yet to come this spring.
But that’s okay, students. I want you to know that and I want you to understand that this isn’t the only point in your life when you’re going to dwell in the in-between space – not only because it’s a pretty significant part of the overall human experience, but also because (young horse ownership aside) it’s time that can be pretty useful if you recognize it for what it is (temporary) and seize the opportunity it presents to focus your attention elsewhere for a bit.
With my young horse, focusing my attention elsewhere means making sure that his groundwork is rock solid while I wait for spring to hit and his latest growth spurt to (hopefully) subside.
For a high school senior, it might mean something as simple as using the time to cram in those “last time” opportunities presented by senior year of high school – hanging out with friends more, going to more school-sponsored events, etc. – or something more future-focused, such as learning more about the courses that will make up your intended college major no matter what school you attend and determining if that is indeed the right major for you. (For instance, if you plan to become a doctor, read articles about pre-medical curriculum and what courses make it up. Learn what these courses look like at large public universities and compare and contrast to how they’re taught at small private colleges. What excites you about those courses? What makes you nervous?)
This in between space doesn’t typically last too long, so it’s best to move quickly if you hope to capitalize fully on its potential. Enjoy it while it lasts.