This article I read today is about the challenge of getting into the most competitive colleges when students are too “unhooked” or disconnected from one particular activity or position that makes them stand out. While I wasn’t drawn so much to the article’s discussion about girls, white girls, and competitive colleges, I did find appealing a concept the author calls an anchor.
“An anchor is an activity or pastime that they do deeply and consistently over a long period. Anchors help them define them and their evolving identities.”
When my brother, sister, and I were growing up, we had to take piano until we graduated from high school. HAD to. Everything else in our life we could choose, and we did. We flitted in and out of activities depending on our changing interests, what our friends were doing, what seemed fun in the moment. But piano was simply not a choice. It seemed unfair. Randy groaned that the practices were boring; Amy complained that the lessons were a waste of time; I dreaded the tick-tick of the metronome in Mrs. Roberts living room with its looming brown piano surrounded by lamps and doilies.
But looking back, I’m glad that we didn’t have the choice to quit. If we could have, we would have. Piano instilled in me more than a musical competency that I’m grateful to have; but also strengthened my sense of discipline, of learning how to do a challenging thing that I didn’t feel like doing. It gave me an anchor.
I don’t know yet what Hugh’s anchor will be, but I do hope he finds one. Then again, maybe it’s not his job to find one, but mine to impose…