Let’s start out very bluntly. I got rejected from the college of my dreams. There, I said it.
Getting rejected from my dream school was, to put it simply, my biggest fear. For four years I’ve pulled all-nighters, dragged myself to school every day and pushed myself to take on more and more extra curricular activities in the hopes that it would all pay off come senior year.
It can be really easy to let myself think that because I’m not going to be able to go to the college of my dreams that all of that work was for nothing. For a time, I allowed myself to cry, and sulk, and think about all of the things I could’ve been doing when I was studying or at some club meeting. It felt like nothing I did mattered because I had failed in the end. The more I think about my future, however, the more I realize how depressing of a view of my last four years this was.
The work I’ve done in high school is not deemed valuable or important based on the college-related payoffs alone. Just because I didn’t get into this or that college doesn’t mean I wasted my time.
I see now that all of the time I’ve spent studying was not solely to get a good grade (though I’m not going to lie, that was a big part of it), but it was also for the sake of learning. Even though I spent at least half of most of my math classes wondering when I would ever need to know how to graph a quadratic equation, I know that the knowledge I learned in that class will help me to become a more successful and more well-rounded person in the future.
High school is not all about academics either. To look back at the last four years and only see the work I’ve put into my classes is like looking at a s’more and only seeing the graham cracker. Sure it’s important, but we all know that it’s not the best part.
I can’t ignore the friendships and memories I’ve made or the lessons I’ve learned. I can’t ignore how much I have grown as a person.
Freshman year me would’ve never known how to handle a breakup or how to make it through a full day of school, five and a half hours of work and a few hours of homework after getting less than three hours of sleep the night before. Today I know that a slushie and some good friends will get you through any tough day and that I can live on caffeine instead of sleep until the weekend comes.
College is not an end goal, but another stepping stone in the process of me being able to someday do the things I love for a living. Whether that stepping stone is the one I had in mind at the beginning of high school or not, I’m going to get to where I need to go, and I’m going to make the most of the time I spend there.
I talk a lot about the confidence I’ve gained throughout high school, but getting rejected was the truest test of that confidence. In the last few months, I’ve challenged myself to realize that no matter where I go, I’m going to do great things. Great people are not made because of what school they went to, they’re made because of the things they’ve done there.
So I didn’t get into my dream school, but that doesn’t define my high school career or make me a failure. It doesn’t mean I should throw all of my hard work out of the window. I’ve come to the realization that there’s not always going to be someone there to give me a gold sticker (or college acceptance) every time I make an accomplishment. It’s those times when I break out my own stickers and am proud of whatever outcome I get and the work I’ve done.