So, I am a Horse Leader at a ranch in my town that provides equine therapy to children with autism, and while I’d love to tell you more about that, I’d like to fill y’all in on something that my fellow Horse Leader told me yesterday. She said, “Collin, you are such a happy guy; it’s oppressive!” Star stricken by her unmitigated gall, I sputtered. I’ve been thinking about what she said tonight, and I began to question whether the person I externally project myself to be is really who I am. I’m not saying that I go around all day sulking in my dark cloud of gloom and doom, but I didn’t for a minute think that I would be elected for the Happiest Guy of the Year award.
What I’m telling you is important. Are you really who you think you are? To other people, I mean. Do you know what has really happened to you? Can you look at your character, your personality, in the mirror?
I genuinely thought that I could until yesterday. Unfortunately, I don’t have time to describe to you the five-month walkabout I took after discovering this terrible news that I wasn’t who I thought I was because November 1st is right around the corner. First, congratulations on becoming a Finalist if you are a Finalist. I say this sarcastically because if you are a Finalist, you’ve heard this cheery phrase about a hundred times.
They don’t understand, do they? I don’t mean to tell you that the people who tell you “congrats” with the biggest smiles on their faces are necessarily facetious. But if you are up to speed on the QuestBridge train, you’ll know that this is the hardest you’ve had to work in a very long time to accomplish something so immensely important.
I started my week by forking over more of my money to the ACT Corporation to send my scores to the seven schools that I ranked through QuestBridge. I’d like to say that this was the last time I’ll log in to that web portal, but I seriously doubt so. Next, I plopped down in my cushy office chair with my parents’ tax forms from 2013, which I file (shhh! Don’t tell the IRS!). The CSS PROFILE, as the College Board so affectionately calls it, is not necessarily a nightmare, but the emotional build up surrounding it simply gives me anxiety. In reality this fine specimen of Web 2.0 graphics is easily tackled with about one hour of time and several TASTYKAKES, which are these heavenly Reese’s Peanut Butter cup cake bars.
Hopefully, you applied for some QuestBridge CSS PROFILE fee waivers. I’m glad I clicked the button because they saved me $74! After I submitted this financial aid application, I breathed a sigh of relief. I thought I was done, but I got an email from Princeton a few minutes later, of course, congratulating me for applying and directing me to their own version of the CSS PROFILE. This is one of the benefits of being an emotional eater, you see. By this time, my blood glucose was peaking, and I felt like I was on top of the world.
Happily, I opened up the Common Application to complete the supplements for the five of the schools I applied to that weren’t completely satisfied with just my QuestBridge application.
This brings me back to my self-representation problems. When it came time to down a cup of coffee, which I hate to do, and write about myself, the conversation I had above became easily more one-sided. When Tufts asked me to celebrate my nerdy side, I countered with a saucy checkmate. I wrote an essay about my shower, and I love it. I love it because I was writing about me. Writing about who you are really is quite liberating. No, in case you’re wondering, I’m not a shower. Maybe you’ll get to read my essay one day, but I don’t want to distract you from you.
Looking at my week, and thinking about yours, can you blame me for writing this blog post at approximately 2 AM? This might be a useless cliché, but humor me, and all of my platitudes, for a moment. Right before my regional meet for Cross Country, the last meet of the season, my coach told us that our bodies have been training for this moment for months. She underscored the fact that we were physically capable of exceeding our goals. She told us that the only thing holding us back was our minds.
I’m here to tell you that you are physically capable of meeting the November 1st deadline. You owe it to yourself, all of the training that you’ve been doing for the past two years. The only thing that will hold you back over the next few days is your mind. Know your enemy and work around it. You’ve got at least one person rooting for you.
And to all of my beautiful readers who weren’t Finalists, and I know you guys are out there because my close friend wasn’t one, do me a favor, close this tab right now and head to Wal-Mart to procure yourself a delicious box of TASTYKAKES. But in all seriousness, I respect you guys. I know it sucks, and I also know that there is nothing I can tell you right now that will make it all be “okay.” I’ll tell you this, though: as I was on the phone with my friend who didn’t make it, and she was saying that she was glad I made it yadda yadda, I told her to stop. I told her that I knew that when you don’t get what you want, you are supposed to congratulate the other person and hold your head up high, but why hide behind these social conventions? Sure, it’s nice emotionally for the so-called “winner,” but what about you?
You’ve put in a lot to this equation, and you came out with the wrong answer. But you might just yet have a reason to hold your head up high—you live in the United States. You have the opportunity, no, scratch that, multiple opportunities popping up all throughout your life to seize. Sure, QuestBridge was not one of them, but now is when you move on to Plan X, Y, and Z. You can still get to where you want to go. Might the road to get there be a bit more winding? That’s possible, but you’ll get to where you need to be—this is the key.
I’m watching you. I don’t want to see that negativity behind the computer screen. You owe it to yourself to put forth *again* the best version of yourself possible. Giving up now would be ridiculous. Please, please, please open up that Common Application and apply to your dream school, and, most importantly, a range of schools from your local state school to the schools you’d be happy at, to the schools you’d momentarily have a heart attack at as soon as you got there. You have to know this—it’s not over. You don’t get to lie down here, so wake up and get started.
— Collin Bentley, 2014 College Match applicant