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Two days ago, I was rejected from my dream schools – Stanford, Columbia, Johns Hopkins. The week had begun horrendously. I was anxious, not entertained, and beginning to develop some illness. I had even missed an award ceremony that week because I misread A.M. for P.M on the letter. When the moment came to check each application, a feeling in my stomach had dropped as I read the letters all starting on the lines of “we regret to inform you”. No emotion initially appeared on my face. Hope is a paradoxical presence. It keeps you going but it also tears you down. Because these letters contained no reason for their rejection, I tried to attribute my failure to something I had not done well, but I could think of nothing. I had done a plethora of extracurriculars, was valedictorian, and had more than sufficient test scores for these schools. Yet I was rejected. There was an empty feeling of uncertainty for the future that filled me. I did not know what to do in my future anymore. I had everything planned out and the decision release decimated my plans.

We regret to inform you...

Would I live anything more than an average life? That question was ingrained into the back of my head. I was scared but I refused to have transparency with my emotions. I read through a multitude of blogs and articles to find any condolence but I was left unsatisfied. I could not define the rejections as a failure because there was absolutely nothing else I could have done more than I already had in high school. I had made sure to persevere in all subjects, not for the sake of college admissions but because I had a genuine interest in numerous areas. Did this itself work against me. I wanted to know the reason I was rejected. My essays? My scores? Reverse discrimination and quotas? Along with this on the next day of school despite my efforts, I was unable to keep myself from making the correlation of seeing how the wealthy students who were less qualified than me were able to get into their respective dream schools, unlike the middle classed kids who were left out to dry.

In the end, however, I realized that bitterness was not going to be a panacea for my woes. I did get into good schools but I failed to recognize that in my misery. Life does go on no matter whether or not you want it to. To obsess about something that won’t change just seems destructive. College rejections suck but there is nothing we can do to change it. And with that, I began to research the colleges that I did get accepted into and the pain of my rejections did not fade of course but subdued. Eventually, my “what if I had” questions will end as well and the “what if I had”‘s will become “how will I”‘s instead. Sometimes life is not going to go the way I want it to, but I know every road will have a unique experience right on ahead.

So I guess this is my rejection letter to my nervousness, and I regret to inform this fear of the future, this chronophobia, that I do care that I got rejected from my dream schools, but that’s simply the way it is, but I will not let this fracture of my plans affect my future. Thank you and my deepest regrets.

And to hordes of you that also got rejected, I am not going to say “you are going to do great things in the future so don’t worry you got rejected from that one college” or that “everything happens for a reason”, as my friends had told me because those reassurances lacked the certainty that I needed. I am going to say: the future is uncertain. And in this uncertainty find the certainty that it is up to you to live your life the way you want it to. Accepting what is in front of you and making the most of it is how to keep sane and functional in this world.

This may have been a bump in the road of life for me, but then again… it may have not been one as well.