Living in the Margin: Part 3
By Jeannette Webb
I’ll be totally honest and tell you that the addition of margin to my life saved my marriage, revolutionized my parenting, and restored my health. After 25 years of living in the margin, I am a radically different woman. I’d like to wrap up our discussion about Living in the Margin with three more things to consider as you contemplate adding more breathing space to your life.
Turn off the TV and Shut Off the Computer
Do I need to say more? I shouldn’t, but for the die-hard who has to be constantly plugged in, let me share some recent research. World magazine (Oct. 9, 2010) reported recent studies that all pointed to the implication that constant technology use (instead of taking a break to think or walk in the woods) “may keep us from being able to solidify ideas and experiences or turn them into knowledge and long-term memory.” In other words, without down time, you won’t process new experiences. Without the processing, you don’t learn.
Develop the Habit of Deep Conversation
With the time you have now that you’ve unplugged, pruned, and said “no” you will have extra moments to spend with your kids processing. You’ll have time to really get the most out of the things your family does do. I personally believe that debriefing is the one of the most important things you can do with your kids. In the hands of a wise parent, debriefing can train children to:
- look critically at how they spend their lives
- evaluate the choices they make
- reflect on their contribution to an activity or to the community
- assess their skill development
- learn to live from their heart in the unique way God created them
What Does Margin have to do With College Admissions?
More than you might guess. College Admissions Officers wade through stacks of applications every day belonging to kids without margin – kids who started high school with a checklist of all the things they needed to do to be impressive. You’ve seen the list: clubs, tough classes, sports, offices, music. So, public school kids join clubs, hold office, and play sports. Homeschoolers create clubs so they can hold office and develop sports leagues so they look like public schoolers. These list-builders are the kids who do it all, operate on very little sleep, and live life at a dead run. Ironically, most of these students wind up looking pretty much alike, regardless of their schooling choice.
A teen that has the courage to be truly different can catch an admissions officer’s eye. Usually this means living a life that other kids don’t live. It typically means having the time and space to pursue what is important to them. It almost always means that they are living intentionally and from the heart.
If a lifestyle of doing less and being more would be of interest to you, check out two college admissions books that challenge the old stereotypes. Called to Influence: A New Approach to Life, Education and College Admissions offers a unique perspective as it is written from two vantage points – my son’s and mine. I’ve had many moms tell me that their sons weren’t very receptive to their counsel, but they were receptive to what another teen in their situation had to say. Called to Influence is written specifically for a Christian homeschooled audience. From a secular, public or private schooled perspective is How to be A High School Superstar: A Revolutionary Plan to Get into College by Standing Out (Without Burning Out). Both books show real-life examples of students who understood themselves, lived with margin, and stood out from the crowd at competitive schools.