I was speaking to a friend about the college application process that she recently underwent with her daughter, who I taught years ago.
"It's wasn't so bad. Not a big deal at all, really. I'm just happy we're in a position to send her to college."
I was thrilled - not because I will almost certainly engage in the same process with my children someday - but because it seems as if the default position on the college application process is that it's a harrowing, exhausting, ridiculous, mind numbing journey, fraught with both stress and confusion.
Can it really be this bad?
As a person who desperately wanted to engage in the college application process in high school but was denied the opportunity by parents and guidance counselors (who never even spoke the word "college" to me) and financial circumstances, the complaining has always struck a discordant tone with me.
Sort of a "first world problem" at its best.
There are many, many teenagers who won't have the opportunity to apply to colleges during their senior year of high school for a variety of reasons, and there are many parents who wish that they could send their child off to college but lack the means to do so.
The same can be said about many things. The default position for so many aspects of our life always seems to lean to the negative.
I've recently become attuned to the trope that teachers are overworked, stressed, under enormous amounts of pressure, and doing work that often seems impossible.
While I would never deny that there are many difficult days in teaching, are all teachers really overworked, stressed, and under enormous amounts of pressure at all times?
Are teachers working harder and experiencing more stress than doctors or nurses? Salespeople or police officers? Pilots and programmers?
What about my friends working in technology, who operate under enormous time constraints to deliver new products on time and absent of any glitches while also updating older systems and correcting problems in a seamless and timely fashion?
What about salespeople, whose paycheck is predicated solely on their ability to convince others to part with their hard earned money?
And the entrepreneur, desperately trying to hold his small business together by working all hours of the day and shaving expenditures whenever possible?
Or the attorney attempting to put a rapist behind bars or defending an innocent man?
Or even the McDonald's manager, who is running the operation short three people because they are high school kids who decided to take the day off to go to the beach?
I am not saying that teaching is not a challenging job. I am not saying that it can't be overwhelming at times. I'm not saying that stress is absent from the teacher's work day.
What I'm suggesting is that people remember how fortunate they are to do what they do. Remember that many professions possess at least an equal workload and an equivalent amount of stress, if not more. Remember how fortunate we are to work with young people in a job with an enormous amount of job security and the ability to make a difference in the lives of others.
There was a time when I was homeless and indicted for a crime I did not commit. While awaiting trial, I was brutally robbed and tortured at gunpoint, leaving me with a lifetime of post traumatic stress disorder. I worked more than 80 hours a week for almost two years during that time in order to pay my legal expenses.
It also makes every day of teaching seem like a little more of a blessing.
I suspect that it will make the college application process seem a little bit easier, too.