Right now, like I always do when I feel panicked and mad at the world for being lame, I am listening to “Wake Up” by Arcade Fire in the library. This afternoon, there were explosions during the marathon in Boston, just a few hours north of New Haven. My father and other family live in the area, and so do some of my best friends. It was a horrifying and stressful afternoon, but thankfully, everyone I know is all right.
While the news stations are going crazy, and my journalist friends are frantically running around campus, there are hundreds of pre-frosh (prospective Yalies) scampering around with pamphlets and schedules and flyers and tote bags and free t-shirts in hand. The weather is so warm that for the first time in six months, I ordered an iced latte instead of a regular one this afternoon. Things are looking good. They’re looking better in so many ways, but there is so much tragedy beneath it all. There is so much pain and trauma; there is so much evil and anguish in this world.
I want to mention this because I believe it’s imperative to remember that there are greater things going on in the world. And in this frenzied time of choosing colleges, so many high school seniors are under the impression that wherever they go will dictate their happiness for the next four years, and even the rest of their lives. I was under a similar impression when I was choosing between schools last year, and when I ultimately chose to attend Yale, I did so because I felt that Yale would make me the happiest. I felt that it provided the most supportive network of people and the most intimate, wonderful, dynamic community of loving, kind individuals. In fact, the people I spent the most time with at Bulldog Days are still part of my life, and I’m glad to say that throughout the past year, I’ve developed even stronger friendships with them. One became one of my most trusted friends, another became a FroCo in my college (who lives right below me), and others became shoulders to lean on and laugh with. And I am happy I chose Yale. I think it was one of the best decisions of my life. I know that it changed my life. And I think choosing a college is less of a matter of which one is “the best” and infinitely more about which one makes you feel the happiest–which one makes you feel like you belong.
Choose the one that feels like home. Because, trust me, life is capable of throwing some terrifying, awful things at you, and you need to know that wherever you’ll be for the foreseeable future, you will feel comfortable. You need to feel at peace. You need to feel safe.
To all the pre-frosh out there–don’t fool yourself into thinking that college will be everything high school wasn’t. Don’t believe for a minute that this decision will either make or break your future happiness because there’s so much more to life than this. Your happiness rests in your hands, and your pain often rests in others. The most you can do is claim a place for yourself that will allow you to find yourself and be yourself and nurture yourself. Find a place that you love. Because you will struggle. Life will be hard. People can kill people you love, and people can break your heart, and people can betray your trust, and life can seem like the absolute worst sometimes. But there is always good. Find a place that reminds you of that. Find a place that makes you feel like things will be okay. Find a place that will let you put yourself back together.
Just follow your gut, little pre-frosh. Look for the moment you just “know.” Wander around campus at 1 A.M. and ask yourself if this feels right. Talk to the people around you, talk to the current students, talk to the people who are waiting until 11:59 PM on April 30th to make their decision. Sit next to that cute guy/girl and don’t care if you never talk to him/her again. Eat as much free food as possible. Ask questions. Remember that everything isn’t always going to be all right–but that’s okay. Choose the place that’ll give you everything you need to be happy, healthy, and safe. Choose the place that feels like home. Do what feels right.
And thanks for reminding me that I chose Yale because of this. Thanks for reminding me of how safe and wonderful this campus is. Thanks for reminding me of the beauty that is here, even when the world is being lame. And to all those affected by the tragedy in Boston, I send my love and prayers. I wish you peace.
— by Adriana Miele, Quest Scholar, Yale ’16
This post was originally published on 4/16/13 on the Quest Scholars Network blog.