Do something your friends don’t.
It is that easy and that difficult. Instead of participating in something your friend would, do something an adult would do. Take on a project that scares you to death, something you think might swallow you whole. Create something that is so exciting to you that you can get totally lost in the planning and execution of it.
Most teens are planning to run for French club secretary or train for a 5k fundraising race. Both those things are great but are common in the college application milieu. Thus, a student who lives from the heart, who pursues important things that need doing, who takes on a difficult job that no one else has the courage to do stands out from the crowd.
But, here’s a second and more important reason to think about non-teenage activities: they are a great transition into adulthood. Doing something in the adult realm forces a student to think in new ways, has them brushing shoulders with real people in the real world. It is a chance to use their developing skills and see what possibilities life might have for them. It is a great opportunity to try on an adult role while still secure under their parents’ roof.
Adult-level activities have a way of changing a student’s perspective and of deepening their confidence. They discover new abilities and maybe even a vision for their future. For that reason, I never hesitate to advise teens to take the path less traveled.
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