Force of Habit

In response to my post last week about setting the stage for positive changes to happen, Stephanie accurately pointed out that it’s not just a matter of rearranging the environment and waiting to feel inspired.  We also have to make the effort to change what we do.  The actions that we choose to incorporate into our daily routines, along with the habits that develop as a result of these choices, shape what we become and what we can accomplish.

It really struck me how quickly changes can happen, both on the social and the individual level, when my daughter was home from college over the holidays.  She seemed much more grown-up than she’d been when she left home just a few months ago.  Something about her demeanor seemed calmer and more focused; and her first-semester grades were excellent, which was quite a change from her less than studious high school days.

Although there’s no doubt Daughter is bright and capable, she gets bored and distracted very easily, which was not the best combination when she was in high school with all of its social drama.  She was always going out with one group of friends and gossiping about the others, as teenagers do.  The phone records showed that she was sending literally thousands of text messages every month.  Sometimes it seemed that the only way we could get her to do her school assignments was to keep her grounded with no phone; but that didn’t work well either because she relies very heavily on her phone’s calendar and other organizing features to keep track of things.

So when she started looking at colleges, my husband and I had one inflexible rule: She had to go to school somewhere far enough away from home so that she wouldn’t be distracted by her high school friends.  The college where we ended up sending her, which is just over three hours’ driving distance away, is a tiny school in a sleepy little suburb where not much is going on.  At first she complained about how little there was to do, declaring that she was about to expire from boredom because she had nothing to do but study, and trying to convince us that she’d be just fine going to school closer to home.

But something changed by the time the holidays came around.  She was doing very well in her classes, which hadn’t happened since she was a little girl in braids, and she felt pretty good about her accomplishments.  Then she looked around and saw what was going on with her very social friends.  Some already had dropped out by the end of the first semester, while others were struggling.  One of her friends from high school had done so poorly in college that his parents cut him off, and he was trying to figure out what to do next.  Other friends were taking community college classes while working at fast-food restaurants.

Although she still went out and spent time with her friends while she was home over the holidays, it was clear that Daughter had gained a more mature perspective.  When their conversations turned to relationship problems and bad grades, she told her friends that they needed to make better life choices.  They didn’t like hearing it, she informed me, but somebody needed to tell them.

I gave Daughter a calm reply to the effect that being able to give people good advice on their life choices was a useful ability; but as soon as she left the room, I was grinning mightily.

on 01/19/11 in featured, Society | 1 Comment | Read More

Comments (1)


  1. Stephanie says:


    The transition from high school can be quite a shock. I am glad your daughter weathered the boredom to re-discover success. And perhaps learned something even more important along the way.

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