I have always fancied myself as a practical person, sometimes to a fault. I have never really been a dreamer, as I have always preferred to try and be realistic. I thought I was doing the same with the college admissions.
I thought I didn’t have a favorite school or a vision for college. I just wanted to go because that’s what high schoolers do after graduation, and I would figure out the rest upon my arrival.
I was wrong about myself, though. Subconsciously, I had crafted a dream that I would spend my collegiate days under the Southern California sun with a select group of my high school friends and a band of new friends I would make, of course. I had the extracurriculars picked out, and I knew what my college days would look like.
I had always envisioned this, but never acknowledged that this was my dream. I told myself I didn’t care where I ended up, when in fact I had a dreamed about my future for nearly two whole years.
The words “We regret to inform you” shattered that dream in a fraction of a second. I never finished the letter, it was too painful, and what they said in the following paragraphs did not matter anyway.
The dream was dead. There would be no Southern California sun, no high school friends, no dream school.
The dream was one thing, but my understanding of self was another thing that “We regret to inform you” had rocked. Unbeknownst to me, I had thought of myself as worthy of the caliber of this particular institution, so when they decided that they could do better than me, I was not quite sure how to feel.
No emotion can really sum up how I felt. It was anger at the school for doing their job; it was mourning the loss of something I never had; it was fear of the uncertainty that now lay ahead.
“We regret to inform you” is more than a denial or missed opportunity, it is a serious blow, especially if it comes from somewhere that you really care about.
It is not something that can go away by someone saying “They missed out on you” or “The whole thing is a total crapshoot,” but “We regret to inform you” does not sting forever. It does not determine the course of my life — or anyone’s for that matter.
If anything, it is a reason to work even harder.
“The dream” cannot be achieved at 17 years old, so it is deferred to when I am 21. Or 32. Or 92. Or whenever I find myself truly happy, and I am confident that it is only a matter of time until hard work gets me there.