Wearing vintage sunglasses, a thrift store leather jacket, and a headband adorned with cat ears, I busted out of school early with my best friend. We drove to the mall, rolling the windows down to feel the breeze and remind ourselves that we were still here, still alive, still functioning, somehow. After fluffing and stuffing two bunnies in bowties at Build-a-Bear and having a few go-arounds on the carousel, we went back to the parking lot of Wilton High School to unveil whether I had been accepted into college or not.

Five o’clock rolled around, and I found myself dawdling. With every second that passed I found another excuse not to look: I wanted to listen to the next part of Beyonce’s Partition, check Facebook to see if anyone had changed his or her profile picture, adjust my seat warmer to ensure my bottom was at the ideal temperature.

“You’re procrastinating,” my best friend said. “You should just get it over with.”

I sighed and handed her my phone. I put my head on the steering wheel, crossed my fingers, and closed my eyes.

There was a pause. “Deferred,” she said quietly.

It was time to make the real decision.

My decision was this: I exhaled, opened my eyes, and said, “OK.” Because in that moment — and still in this moment right now — that’s what I have chosen to be: OK.

We teeangers so often fall into the trap of being stuck in one idea of the future: we will get into this college, major in this field, have this job, live in this city. It can’t be helped, because dreams are delicious distractions from the often petty, irritating, boring chatter of the present. But unfortunately, the future is not Google Maps, with the most efficient route from A to B highlighted in red; rather, the future is a discombobulated array of random lines in all colors of the rainbow, all going in different directions for what seems like no reason at all. But in the end, all of these dashes and dots come together to assemble the most complicated yet compelling person you will ever come to know: yourself. And you are beautiful.

Our experiences alone are not what defines us, and though it’s hard to see a lot of the time, you always have a choice in how you respond to any event. You can be a drama queen and scream, eat cartons of ice cream, and sob your brains out while listening to Taylor Swift, or you can shrug your shoulders and accept the fact that today wasn’t your day, but maybe tomorrow will be better. I have done both at many points in my life, but that Thursday, I chose to embrace the latter. By being negative, I would have expended time and energy on something that would amount to nothing, so I chose to be positive, to hug and cheer for my friends who did get into college that day, to be optimistic and emotionally present for my friends who would find out about their results in the coming days and weeks.

The fact that one university did not accept me or you or anyone does not dictate who we are as people. As for me, I’m still Abigail Hannah Schiff, and I still laugh for far too long about fart jokes and can always make my friends smile with some dorky sentiment about life I have to share. No matter which way the universe takes me, I know I’ll always have myself and my love of this world to take along for the ride. It doesn’t matter what college I go to or if I decide that I’m going to become a potato farmer in Hawaii. My future is what I make of it, and that choice is up to me, and up to you, too. And for that, how could we not be grateful?


Abby Schiff is a senior at Wilton High School. She shares this column with four classmates.