Are you a driver? Think back to your first experience learning how to drive.
My dad allowed me to take the wheel and drive on the dirt roads around my grandparents’ farm during summer visits to Alabama when I was a teenager. It was only for a few minutes here and there, but it was fun.
When it was time to get down to the real business of driving, my parents signed me up for Driver’s Ed. My mom insisted that she ride along in the back seat, even though the instructor strongly discouraged it. After the first two sessions, she understood why her presence hindered the process and left me to manage with the instructor.
So, there I was, strapped in, both hands gripping the steering wheel for dear life with my eyes intensely focused through the windshield to the point where the car and the road meet.
I would barely push the accelerator to make the car move forward as I slowly crept through the neighborhood, around corners, and down long streets.
When I approached a stop sign, I swear I would sit there for minutes just to make sure no one was coming (it was probably more like 30 seconds, but I’m sure it felt like an eternity to the instructor).
It was a new experience, I was nervous and scared I would hit something, somebody.
The instructor’s demeanor and approach with me softened after my mom left, which I really appreciated. He was more patient and spent more time trying his best to get me to speed up and raise my gaze.
You see, as long as my gaze was fixed where the car met the road, there was no way for me to increase my speed or gain any momentum.
In order for me to really take control of the situation, I had to lift my eyes and look out and ahead.
When I first attempted to extend my gaze, I remember experiencing sensory overload. It seemed like I could see everything. My challenge shifted to learning how to focus on controlling the car versus paying attention to everything around us.
Eventually, I would learn how to manage it all – looking ahead, easing my grip on the steering wheel, accelerating smoothly, breaking gently, and using my side and rear view mirrors, all while paying attention to my surroundings. I was SO excited and ready to graduate to the interstate!
Taking control of your life is a lot like learning how to drive a car.
Transitioning into adulthood means taking on more and more responsibility. Taking full control can be scary and nerve racking. You don’t know what you’re doing (actually, no one really does), and you make lots of mistakes. Your acceleration at times is rough, sometimes you brake too hard and too fast, sometimes you don’t pay attention, and a lot of the times you get stuck focusing your gaze on what’s happening right in front of you instead of balancing that with looking out and ahead.
Learning to navigate our lives successfully means learning how to walk and chew gum at the same time.
Learning how to navigate the ins and outs of college successfully require the same kind of balancing act.
It’s as important to keep an eye on what’s right before you (taking the shortview) as it is to look ahead (taking the longview).
The longview requires having a vision of where you’re headed. You can’t simply focus on what’s right before you if you want to move forward and gain some momentum.
Taking the longview involves knowing, knowing who you are so you can determine where you want to go.
College requires both – a short and longview. You don’t have to work it all out the first semester, but it’s important to set your sights on your destination during that first year.
Many students hold there gaze right in front for the first couple of years, maybe even longer until they realize that they’re driving without a destination, without a map.
Your vision requires a map, it doesn’t need to be a detailed map, but you at least need to know which direction you’re headed and a path that best suits YOU for getting there.
This requires some practice and planning, just like learning how to drive.
There are mentors, teachers, coaches and counselors to help you get there like parents, instructors and others who have traveled a similar path. They can offer solid suggestions to keep your mistakes to a minimum. Listen to what they have to say.
Sometimes, just like my driver’s ed instructor, they’ll have to use the break on their side of the car to help you start, slow down and stop responsibly, but eventually you’re going to have to graduate to a car where you’re in control – no instructor, no parents, no one else – just you.
Driving, college, life, they’re all about learning how to balance your shortview and your longview. You need both to successfully navigate the challenges ahead.
Be patient with yourself. Celebrate your successes. Consider every mistake a lesson.
Remember, no one really knows what they’re doing, so do the best you can with what you have and what you know.
Be brave. Take on new challenges. Relax; anxiety only clouds your judgment. Be confident, you’ve got this.
Awareness is your friend, be mindful of your surroundings at all times.
Remember, your longview is just as important as your shortview.
Don’t accelerate too fast. Don’t go too slow.
Definitely don’t ride your break – yes, be careful and cautious, but don’t allow fear to slow your speed or momentum.
Stop when you need to stop and go when it’s appropriate and safe to go.
Live in the present, but don’t forget to set your compass and your vision ahead.
You’ve got places to go, people to see and things to do.
Robbi Crawford, The Student’s Mentor, Author and Speaker is the founder of BrijBrand.co. Subscribe below so you don’t miss a post. Then, visit our website BrijBrand and get on the list. We’re here to help you get where and what you want.