This Week’s Obligatory Post About College

Erica.

While going through the posts on this blog I realized that in the entirety of its one month existence I have never posted about college, and frankly that’s unacceptable. So here it goes.

I’ve been preparing for this my entire life. Ever since I was little, the majority—if not the entirety—of the things I did were with college in mind. How would this make me more appealing to colleges? How would this benefit my resume? I was taught to run every decision through my head and view its level of practicality in terms of college. If it had no benefits, or if the benefits were purely of leisure, I was taught that it wasn’t worth my time.

Instead, I was told to direct my energy into other things. I first took the SAT when I was 12 years old. I’ve taken the it every year since then. I’ve spent every summer since seventh grade in some kind of academic camp, class, or internship. I don’t think I’ve talked to my dad about anything but college since eighth grade. The older I got, the more responsibilities I accrued, and soon my life became a constant humdrum of responsibilities. School became my life and every waking moment was dedicated to homework, college prep, work, or karate. My end goal was college, and this monotonous routine was what I had to go through to get there.

Now, I don’t necessarily regret all of this. This fervent college preparation has manifested itself in standardized test scores I am constantly proud of. My GPA and resume aren’t shabby and no one can tell me I wasted away my summers lounging around doing nothing, because I didn’t. I’ve learned a lot and grown a lot and done things I never thought I would ever do but surprisingly enjoyed—like working as an intern in a civil engineering cement lab. But despite all of this, I feel surprisingly inadequate. Years and years of strategizing have led me to college applications and I still don’t feel ready.

I started these essays in June. It doesn’t make sense. This should be easy.

I’ve done bigger things. I’ve written couple-thousand-word essays on the justification of the Trojan War and written speeches at 3am and given them at 6:30am and gotten perfect scores on oral exams and somehow went from failing my first Organic Chemistry to finishing the class with an A. I’ve gotten through stressful homework and four-hour Omnibus tests and projects that made my stomach turn yet somehow, SOMEHOW, in the face of these 650-words-or-less college essays, I feel like I won’t be able to do this.

I don’t want to write anything. I don’t want to write anything because I’m afraid that I won’t be able to properly articulate how much I want to go to *insert name of university here* or how much I want to become an engineer or how much I care about karate. The things I write sound fake and unenthusiastic. In reality I am enthusiastic about all of these things, but somehow as I transfer my thoughts into words the substance gets lost in between, leaving only an empty shell of a thought on my paper. So I save my draft and close Microsoft Word, hoping to return to it when I feel more driven and more inspired.

But that time never comes.

And somehow June became July and July became August and August completely skipped over September and spit me out into October. And somehow here I am, on October 17th, two weeks away from my early action application deadline and hardly anything to show for it. My Common App essay is on its 13th draft and it’s still not ready to be submitted.

It needs to be perfect. These schools with less than 10% acceptance rates won’t settle for anything less than perfect. My life of college preparation won’t be fulfilled unless I produce perfection. After years and years of telling myself that I can handle eight classes and a job and karate and hours of standardized test tutoring per week and have a thriving social life and a semi-healthy sleep schedule, I feel like I have to transfer it over to these college applications too.

Every time someone tells me I don’t have to try to be perfect, I look at the kids who have won international science competitions and have invented things and have even higher SAT scores than I have and see that they’re applying to the same colleges that I’m applying to. Every time one of my friends tries to intervene and tells me I need to take it easy for the sake of my sanity, I smile and nod but then go back to doing what I was doing before.

All of these conflicted thoughts and dreams and cold hard realities are coming together and manifesting themselves in my college essays. This is it—the one thing I have left to control. My GPA, my test scores, my extracurricular activities, and my transcript are all set in stone. They’re finished. They’re over. The one thing I have left is my essays.

After years of trying to be perfect, I’m struggling to deal with the fact that I can’t be.

(To keep the whole bread pun thing going, I’d like to note that this is my e-leaven-th post on this blog.)

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