It was my Senior year of high school and all the tension was building.
From head to toe, every senior in the nation reeked of anxiety and nervous sweats that came with applying to college. As I recap the first couple of months of my senior year I remember that all I could think about were the anticipated college applications. It slowly became an all-day and all-night type of thing. Going to school, I would think of everything I did in the last 4 years and ask myself: Did I do enough? And the dreaded question of, should I have done more?
In retrospect, these were the two amongst a trillion questions that my overthinking self loved to ask myself on the daily. What made everything a little bit more bearable was that all my friends were also nervous wrecks so, of course, it’s always nice to feel like you aren’t in it alone.
Looking back at it now, in some ways, it makes a lot of sense how nervous we all were that year. We had been going to school for the past 12 years of our lives and our senior year, the year we had waited for what felt like centuries had finally come, and oh it came fast. I remember feeling like I had woken up on a sunny day that quickly turned cloudy when I looked at myself in the mirror, and a, “Time to decide what you want to do with the rest of your life” warning sticker was stamped on my forehead. In moments like these using every penny of my savings, buying a one-way ticket, and backpacking across Europe sounded like THE plan (For now, we’re leaving this dream for my future self).
For me, going to college had been my number one dream since the beginning of my existence. So of course my brain was wired to “Game on” mode the moment I stepped foot into my first last day of high school. It was like nothing else mattered in the world and these applications that I would submit in the next few weeks would be the determining factor of my entire future.
Now, it all sounds quite anti-climatic and super dramatic, but at the time, my 17-year-old self could only feel this way and no other. While on the outside I might’ve looked like a complicated, maybe too intense of a teenager getting into college meant so much to me and those around me.
Growing up, my mom taught me many things about life that showed me the importance of education. My mom had grown up in a small town where without money or a college degree opportunities were limited to almost nothing. With much luck, my mom was a big dreamer. She always knew she was bigger than what her small town deemed her to be. She might’ve had about 10 dollars, actually, more like 10 pesos to her name but that didn’t stop her from moving to a completely different country. The country where it was said, that opportunities were endless and that the beaches were straight out of a Windows wallpaper.
I’m now a sophomore in college, in the process of making my mom and family proud. My mom’s other big dream of seeing me go off to college becomes a reality. Making the ones you love proud is one of the biggest responsibilities that come with being first generation.
In the past 2 years, I’ve jumped into the craziness of adulthood and college life. I guess I now understand what being a broke college student is all about. I always thought it was just having to support yourself financially and even though that is one of the parts of the, “Broke college student” contract. At the bottom, the thought process of having to budget almost everything, the expenses of books and materials, and the biggest expense which is the countless hours that you have to put into studying and learning is written in small print.
I knew that getting a good education was what came with the deal of going to college. What I didn’t know, not to sound like Yoda or anything, is how much knowledge I would learn about life in such a short amount of time. Jumping into this new realm with no knowledge of what was to come, came with so much insight into what life was actually about. In college, I’ve gained so much independence and freedom. It’s all become about this exhilarating process that at times, also comes with having to have patience, but, it’s significant to say that it’s worth it. Every single second of it.
My nervous wreck days where all I would think about was my future has been placed at the back of the shelf. Not necessarily forgotten, but more like stashed away in the past. What I decided to do, was take all the pros and cons from those days and learn from them. Now I know that a good piece of advice I would’ve given myself would be to just chill out man and to take it slow because life is way too short to be stressing about tomorrow.
Not saying that I don’t have my stressful days here and there, but I can proudly attest that I don’t spend my days worrying about every little thing. I’ve found that small things in life have so much meaning. That there’s nothing like taking a nice nap, eating some chocolate, or waking up to the delicious smell of morning coffee. Those things that brighten your day shouldn’t be taken for granted.
So to end it off, the next time that you and I question ourselves and are stressed about life or about that application or that interview that you have next week. Ask yourself, “What would Elle Woods do?” because I know for sure, she would’ve walked out with her pink high heels, and made that stressful day her own.