As we near the midway point of your senior year and head into the holidays, your college admissions journey can feel even more overwhelming than usual. You’ve been grinding away for a good while now, crossing items off your to-do list, but you’re not done yet. After a while, you might feel burned out, exhausted, convinced it’ll never be over. Like you’ll never reach that tiny light at the end of the tunnel.
And with early decision letters looming on the horizon — in addition to well-meaning relatives bugging you about those letters — you have a lot on your plate. It can feel like too much.
It’s understandable to focus a lot on the admissions journey. Especially with those college decisions coming closer and closer, any sort of distress or disappointment feels like you’ve lost everything. That’s because all you’re letting yourself see is the loss. Again, this is super understandable. It’s human. We all do it.
Which is why I want you to turn to gratitude.
When it gets to be too much or when you get some bad news, cultivate your attitude of gratitude. Mindfully and intentionally practicing gratitude will help you see your world and show you that while you may have experienced disappointment in one area of your life, you have so much else in other areas.
Don’t believe me? Well, there’s lots of research that shows that practicing gratitude can improve physical and psychological health, increase mental strength, and raise self-esteem. So, basically, pausing for a moment to focus on the positive helps you reset and become a happier, healthier person leading to becoming…guess what? A stronger applicant! So, I’m really not veering away from the college admissions experience here.
But Admissions Mom, you might ask, what in the heck do I have to be grateful for? I haven’t heard back from my top choices. I don’t have any acceptances yet. My relatives are hounding me about college news. I have finals coming up. There’s so much going on—what in the world is there to be grateful for?
And I’ll answer: just try it!
I know you feel like you’re caught in a storm, but trust me, there are rays of sunshine if you search for them. Anchoring yourself with what matters is essential, whether you find something big or small to focus on. College admissions is only one piece of your life, but the admissions process isn’t worth missing out on your family, friends, or all the things that make you feel special and happy.
Plus, cultivating gratitude during these stressful days will make you a much happier, stronger, and resilient person in the long run. After all, your life doesn’t end after college.
So, for this month of Thanksgiving, I want you to take an occasional break from the storm and think about what you are grateful for in your life. It doesn’t have to be huge. It can be a simple thing. You don’t need to spend very much time practicing gratitude, but you do need to devote some time. Start with one minute, and try to do it every day, especially if you feel really stressed out and overwhelmed right now. I find listing my gratitudes first thing in the morning, before I get the chance to feel stressed out, helps a ton. Whatever works for you!
If you need a little help to get started, here are some tips:
- Notice new things you’re thankful for every day.
- Be specific about what you’re thankful for and visualize the details. Reflect on how it impacts your life and has brought you to where you are today.
- It’s ok to focus on something you might not think is insignificant or normally take for granted.
- Take time to write thank-you notes and acknowledge those who have helped and are helping you along your life’s journey.
- A gratitude journal can be a great way to help you focus on the positives in your life.
I hope this simple yet effective exercise helps to soothe any anxieties you have and helps you to see the wonderful things in your life. So, take a minute today and let me know one thing you’re thankful for. It doesn’t have to be huge.
If you like, feel free to comment here or share your daily gratitude on my Instagram or Twitter!
For more on cultivating your attitude of gratitude, check out my book, Hey AdmissionsMom: Real Talk from Reddit. There’s an entire chapter on it!
You can also find me on r/ApplyingToCollege, drop into the comments, or reach out to me on Twitter or Instagram.
Good luck and stay awesome!