Applying to college is stressful, and can be overwhelming. But there’s also something really amazing about the admissions journey.

And here’s why: Some stress is good for you. You aren’t going to live long, full, absolutely stress-free lives and the sooner you learn to handle it, the better. I’ve heard this called stress inoculation before.

I call it wind.

Now, I really hope there aren’t any botanists out there to call me out on the details of this story because anyone who knows me can tell you I’m no scientist, but I am a former English major and English teacher, so I love a good metaphor, and when I first heard this story, it struck me, and it stuck with me.

Back in the 90s, there was this big ole Biosphere in Arizona where they were trying to create a completely self-contained ecosystem and grow trees, so that, you know, if we get booted off Earth someday, we can take our plant life with us.

They made the conditions absolutely perfect for raising these baby trees. Perfect soil. Ideal temperature. Perfect amount of sunlight and water. And the trees grew and they grew fast and tall and seemed healthy and then —- they started to fall over. And do you know why? The scientists had forgotten to provide the wind in creating the perfect environment for raising their beautiful baby trees. And because there was nothing pushing on these baby trees, nothing trying to knock them over, the saplings never experienced any stress. And without the stress from the wind trying to knock them over, the trees weren’t creating “stress bark,” a bark that makes them stand strong, and they weren’t able to bear their own weight — even in this beautiful, protected, forgiving environment.

So, take heart in the idea that it’s ok and healthy and good and necessary for you to experience a little wind, a little stress. The college admissions journey can be stressful — or windy as I like to now call it — I’m not gonna lie, but that can be a healthy experience. For many of you, it’s the first time you’ve come across this level of stress and when you make your way through the admissions journey and you’re standing tall at the end — even when admissions results do not go your way — you’ll be incredibly proud of yourselves — and stronger.