Last week, I met one of my mom’s friends for the first time. Upon learning that I’m a senior, she looked at me with eyes that I thought read, “Julia, I am so sorry that everybody’s asking you where you’re going next year when they know very well you probably won’t know for a few months, so I’ll spare you the ‘I don’t know yet’ and I won’t ask you at all. Instead, I’ll ask you how the play was or how your brother likes college or if you’re doing anything over break.”
I was so excited! Amidst my senior year, an adult was going to ask me how I was outside of the whole world of college. But, oh, how wrong I was. Instead of just asking me where I was going, which I promptly answered with “I don’t know yet,” she followed it with, “so you didn’t get in anywhere?” “No, I actually haven’t heard back from anywhere yet.” She laughed politely. “I bet that’s your biggest fear.”
Right now, it is. Some part of my brain managed to make me think that because none of my schools have notification dates before Dec. 20, I won’t get into any of them. So I decided to do what I like to call “branching out and exploring my options,” or what my family calls “Julia is going insane.”
It was nearly midnight on a Friday. I had plans that night, but I’d canceled. I was very, very, busy; busy feeling my sanity slowly slip away from me. A wave of panic had overcome me, and I was drowning in an ocean of “what ifs.” What if school X, that I’ve never considered, is perfect, but I have no idea because I’ve never been there? Or what if school Y is everything I could ever want but it just never crossed my mind until now? Suddenly, my list of 11 schools expanded to a list of 34, with schools of 1,000 undergraduates in New England to schools of 20,000 in California to schools of 70,000 in Canada. All 22 of the college tours I’d been on seemed pointless. There were too many what ifs. When I woke up the next morning, the thick smog had cleared my mind. I got rid of the huge Canadian schools. I hate the cold, and I hate big schools, so why would that make any sense? I was making progress. I then got rid of the schools that require perfect grades and perfect test scores that the night before I had called “reaches,” but now I realized were just a waste of time and money. I was regaining sanity, and my sense of self.
There’s always going to be a never-ending supply of “what ifs” in my life. What if my family had never moved away from where I was born in Reno? What if I had stuck with soccer instead of quitting in fifth grade? What if my path never crossed with my best friend and we never met? The possibilities are endless. I can only control what happens to me to a certain extent, and the rest is just “what if.” What if I don’t get into my top school, or what if I don’t get in anywhere? Well, if either of those happens, I’ll be just fine. I’ll just take a new road I wasn’t planning on taking. It’s overwhelming, and I’ve never had an opportunity like this to start my whole life over, but whatever happens, I’m going to be just fine. Life is chaotic — but at the end of the day, we’re going to be OK.