The dreaded Nov. 1. While the start of this exciting month for many is full of sentiments of thanks and gratitude, this day represents a tremendous amount of stress for the Class of 2022. On Nov. 1, Palmetto seniors will submit their first round of college applications, primarily to Florida universities. Although it might feel like the weight of the world is on your back, there is one thing I can assure you of. Not only will you get all of those applications done, but you will also have marked the beginning of the next chapter of your lives in continuing in the pursuit of turning your dreams from fantasy into reality.
First off, I want to, while motivating you, set some expectations of the reality we are in. I expect those who read this await my spreading of words of positivity and simple motivation, but I am not here to take the form of a fairy godmother. No one can wave a magic wand and complete your applications for you. It is an unfortunate fact. However, you are in control of your applications. From your test scores, essays, supplementals, resume and the love you pour into your applications, no magic could ever outshine the beauty of being your true self and sharing that with universities across the world.
From a young age, many of us have been conditioned by society, our family, peers, educators and ourselves to place the entirety of our focus on college. Everything you do — overwhelming classes, daily late-night study sessions, a jam-packed schedule filled with extracurriculars — is all done in hopes of a future stack of university acceptances. While difficult, the first thing I hope to help you change is your perspective and to dispel this idea that has been ingrained in us all.
Our focus should not be entrance into college itself, but the work that we can continue to put in with the hopes of creating a future we always thought could be ours. This shift in ideology works wonders. Begin to think about what you would like your future to include. Whether it be attaining a dream job, living in a certain part of the globe, fueling a passion or getting married and having a family, you are in control and able to take steps towards designing the life you desire.
Dreaming about those larger goals in life is important, but do not waste the waiting. Take time to appreciate the smaller, simpler things in life. Appreciate the things that you often take for granted. Cherish those around you and check in on how they are doing. As many adults in my life have taught me, the monumental events in life only happen a few times. For this reason, those who do not make the conscious effort to recognize and show gratitude for the smaller aspects of life often end up unhappy.
Burnout. I think we all know the feeling. When the to-do lists become too long to fit on a sheet of paper, the homework assignments begin piling up, tasks slip through the cracks and things go unfinished, burnout continues to wreak havoc upon your lives. If this is something you are currently experiencing, first off, know that you are not alone. It may sound a bit facetious given the magnitude of stress and anxiety that manifests itself as a result of burnout, but the most important thing is to give yourself grace and place one foot in front of the other.
In regards to those overflowing lists of tasks that seem too grotesque to even begin, my advice to you is simple. Achieving some level of productivity makes a difference, so why not start with something? Chances are you will accomplish more than you thought, and like Mary Poppins says, “A job well begun is half done.”
Now, as I said, I am not here to wave a magic wand, but I do wish to provide you with hope, courage and belief in yourself. Hope, so that you can see all you have to offer to both the world and yourself; courage so you can look inwards and find the ambition to show admissions officers what you have accomplished and can bring to their institutions; belief in yourself so that you can acknowledge and celebrate all the work you have done through creating an application that is not only personal but representative of you.
During a class conversation, a friend of mine shared something that has greatly changed my perspective on a host of things. She posed a question along the lines of, “Does everything happen for a reason, or do we need a reason to comfort us in the happening?” Everyone is free to come to their own conclusions, but in my book, I believe both are true.
I believe each and every decision and step we have taken, whether right or wrong, has happened for a reason. Our classes, test scores, rankings, essays, colleges we choose to apply to — much of this is both in and out of our control. This is where the idea of needing a reason to comfort us while in the happening comes into play. With all the work we have put into our education and preparation for college, we cling to reasons to comfort us through this process. As I mentioned before, there are many reasons that support one’s pursuit of higher education; I just hope that they revolve around your passions and mission in life.
In these last couple of weeks before applications are due, please give yourself some grace. Those applications will get done and you will end up at the institution that is perfect for you in this stage of life. Remember that what you contribute to the world is so much greater than an acceptance letter. At the end of the day, we each find our way to leave our mark on society and leave others better than we found them, regardless of what school we attend.