“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” – Inigo Montoya, The Princess Bride.
As someone in their early 40s, I’ve come to accept that some of my fellow faculty members were once students I guided through the admission process. But what I refuse to accept is the possibility that you’re unfamiliar with the quote above. The Princess Bride continues to resonate today as strongly as it did in 1987, and this particular quote encapsulates so much of the work we do. Oh, by the way, I’m quite fond of 1987, but that’s a topic for another blog post. If you haven’t seen this classic yet, forget about whatever highbrow literature you’re currently immersed in or the Harry Potter fan fiction that delves into the untold love story of Ron Weasley and Cedric Diggory (RIP), and dive headfirst into this quintessential piece of pop culture. Afterward, feel free to return to your books because, as Peter Falk’s character in the same movie so aptly put it, “In my day, television was called books.”
Reflecting on the Admissions Essay Season
‘Tis the season for college admissions essays, and I thought it would be fitting to share one of my favorite stories from my years of counseling students. Prep school students have a long-standing tradition of trying to outsmart the admissions officers with their essays, and it always leads to some good-natured chuckles. Now, I know I shouldn’t poke fun at my students, but if I can’t make light-hearted jokes about my own biological children or my students, a part of me dies. So, a few years ago, I came across an essay from one of my all-time favorite students. In her essay, she was essentially describing the aspects of her life that one needed to understand in order to recognize her potential contributions. This was all wrapped up in a neat 500-word package, outlining her plans to solve a global issue. In the midst of describing her personal growth, she mentioned that the trait she was most proud of developing in her life was her self-defecating sense of humor. Yes, you read that correctly – self-defecating. Now, I might not be old, but I’ve certainly lived long enough to know that a self-defecating sense of humor is one of the least admired traits one could have. Self-deprecating? Charming. Self-defecating? Just awkward. The English language is a fickle mistress indeed, with words that are so close yet so far apart. It’s as Inigo Montoya would say, “You keep using that word. I don’t think it means what you think it means.” I’m pretty sure that when you get bitten by a snake, you’re not looking for an anecdote but an antidote. Although, I do believe that a well-timed story can heal many wounds.
Embracing the Privilege and Shaping the Future
That’s all I have for now, but I’ll leave you with this: Keep cherishing the privilege that comes with this line of work and, in some small way, contribute to shaping the future. And on those days when the future makes you laugh so hard that you feel like you just had an intense workout with Shaun T in the Asylum (Google it), well, that’s just an added bonus.
By Jeff Morrow
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