Paris Andrew, TIP’s Director of Partnerships and Engagement, is here to help gifted students. She used to run the residential programming at TIP’s educational programs, and she is completing a PhD in related areas, so she knows what she’s talking about.
All my friends seem to know what they are going to be in life. They’re already preparing, even though we’re just coming out of 5th grade. Do I need to be concerned? I don’t have an idea as to what I’m going to do when I’m older. I know I have plenty of time, but it seems like everyone already knows what they want. Should I be worried? — Future Preparer
Dear Future Preparer,
Absolutely not! You should not be worried at all. Most people who think they know what they want to do when they grow up have no idea that they are going to change their minds many times over before they settle on a college major or career. And that’s perfectly normal! It’s intelligent to recognize that your world view is not nearly as wide as it will be one day and that every time you learn something new, or visit a new place, your future choices are expanding.
Right now, you’re in the exploration stage and still weighing your options. Make the most of it by worrying less about where you are headed and concentrating more on the joy of learning new things and meeting new people! Eventually, all of your interests and experiences will converge and the right future for you will become clear. In the meantime, you have plenty of time to think of what you want to do in life. Being aware of your surroundings is just the start. And remember: preparation is never lost time. By not rushing this decision, you are more likely to make the right choice when the time comes. Better to be a middle-schooler still deciding on the right career for them than an adult who is still exploring the same question because they failed to give themselves enough time to do so as a young person!
I’m wishing you the best as you begin preparing for your future. I know you will do well because you are thinking about it intelligently and gradually. Good luck!
What will 5th grade be like? — Batman Sowe
Dear Batman Sowe,
You probably already know this by now, but: exciting, fun, challenging, and full of new adventures — just like every other stage in your life! I like to think of 5th Grade as being like going down a slide. You’ll be at the top of your class, it will be exhilarating when you take off, and you’ll be done before you know it! Enjoy the ride! And if you still have doubts, take a look at our Academic 411 guide to middle school for advice on making the most of your 5th grade experience!
I need some advice on how to make me and my sisters close again like we used to, because now we just fight and make our parents lives harder than they should be. — Gymnast 4 Life
Dear Gymnast 4 Life,
I too have a sister, and we went through many stages of togetherness. Just like gymnastics, your engagement with each other can involve lots of twists and turns — but it sounds like you are also looking to walk the balance beam of life with them as well. Here’s what I recommend:
- Consider ways you can support your sisters in something they are working on, like making a pact to attend each other’s meets or other extracurricular events to cheer each other on. When they do well, go out of your way to congratulate them. When they are disappointed in their performance, take the time to cheer them up and cheer them onward! In other words: be each other’s biggest fans.
- Set ground rules together so you respect each other’s privacy and desires. For example, no borrowing clothes without asking the owner first; no reading each other’s texts or snooping on their computer without permission first; or no barging in when they’re with their friends without permission. These rules apply to all. Let your parents know you have agreed on ground rules and ask them to set appropriate consequences when someone fails to live up to their end of the bargain.
- Ask a question before you yell back. By this, I mean that most sibling fights start because someone comes roaring into a room already yelling full volume at their sibling. When this happens to you, stay calm. Try not to react in kind. Take a deep breath. Then ask, “You seem upset. Can you tell me why you’re so angry?” You may have to ask a few more questions that show you are truly interested in how they feel before they calm down and start to talk instead of yelling.
- If you are in the wrong, acknowledge it and move on. Siblings are in the unique position of being able to hold a grudge over the smallest thing for a lifetime. Don’t enable that kind of behavior. Life is too short and siblings too precious for that. If you violated a sister’s privacy or accidently hurt their feelings, admit it and indicate you would like to make amends and move on. For example, you could say, “I’m really sorry I read your journal. I won’t do it again and I won’t repeat anything I read. Is there anything else I can do to make you feel better?”
- Set aside time to have fun together! Just because you are all busy with your own lives, doesn’t mean you can’t have special time together. For example, decide all of the sisters are going to have Sunday breakfast together and swap updates on their lives (make the whole family breakfast together that same day to give your parents a break!). Agree on a movie night once a week and take turns choosing the movie. Or decide to have a sisters-only sleep-over once a month in the family room or biggest bedroom. That way, your older sisters can remember what fun sleep-overs were like when they were younger and the younger sisters can get a sneak peek at the (exhausting) fun of sleep-overs.
- Let your sisters know you love them and don’t want to spend all of your time together fighting. After all, one day, when you head out into the big, bad world, because you come from the same background, the support of your sisters will be very important to keeping you grounded as you go through changes in life and in understanding what the world is like. Prepare for that day by acknowledging the importance of having sisters now. Then suggest the ideas above.
By the way, this same advice can go for brothers. 🙂 Good luck — and have fun!
This could be a way to come back together and strengthen your bond.
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