Yesterday, I ran into a parent that recognized me as the “mother of Alex”. I couldn’t tell you what this man’s name was but I knew that he looked familiar. As he began speaking, I vaguely remembered that he had a daughter. He struck up a conversation with me and wanted to know how my son was doing. Apparently he remembered Alex well, so I told him that Alex had a good year, gave him the name of the school that he attended and shared that he was home for the summer and working. I felt that the amount of information I gave him was appropriate for how well I knew this man.

Because he had asked how my son was doing, I politely inquired as to how his daughter was doing this year. The next fifteen minutes were filled with the many accolades that his daughter was achieving in her life. By the time I was done listening, I knew that his daughter was in the honors program at her university, had a 3.93 average for the year, made the Deans List each quarter, and had placed out of many, many classes due to her Advanced Placement classes taken in high school. In fact, he added that she had felt that school was very easy!

My new “friend” finally took a breath and asked what Alex’s major was. I replied with one word: music. Honestly, I didn’t want to lengthen this conversation anymore than I had to. That one word I shared led to another five minutes of conversation where he described his daughter’s incredible talent in music and how she had received numerous full scholarships in music but chose to turn them down to do something much more incredible. He added that she had been recognized statewide for music awards, was fluent in Spanish and was becoming fluent in other languages. For some reason, I can’t remember what her major was in college- it’s very possible that my brain turned off.

Now don’t get me wrong- I love hearing about young men and women finding success in their lives. I want them to be challenged and find where they belong in the world. The problem with this specific encounter was that I hardly knew this man. Why would he think that I would be interested in learning about the details of his daughter’s grade point or the financials behind the money they received for school? In fact, why would anyone beyond her family and close friends really be interested in this information? In this conversation, I learned absolutely nothing about how she was doing.

The point is, I don’t expect or want him to share all this information. Sometimes, I’d like more parents to realize that success in a young person’s life is not ONLY about external achievements. Being a success in life is uncovering your strengths and talents and deciding how you would like to utilize your gifts. Being a success in life is about learning and accepting who you are, staying strong for what you believe in and following your heart. Being a success in life is about becoming adept at relationship building- knowing how to keep and nurture friendships, and knowing how to navigate romantic and work relationships. Being a success is about gaining insight into what is important in your life and finding your voice with others. Finally, being a success is becoming a strong woman and knowing what you need to be happy.

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