Ajibike is a 17-year-old from Monroe, Louisiana. She enjoys watching Novak Djokovic play tennis, playing tennis and golf in imitation of the pros, devouring books, starting her own novels, and dreaming about medical school.
I think my mantra throughout high school was “Harvard.” I was study until three in the morning for Harvard. I was picking out clothes to wear around Harvard Yard. I was dreaming about Harvard. Eating while thinking about Harvard. I slept in my Harvard sweatshirts. Let’s face it, I had Harvard syndrome bad. Regardless of my obsession, I went through the motions. I applied to twenty schools, although my heart was a pulsating crimson H. And to my pleasure and utter surprise, the days leading up to April 1st were glorious. Sixteen acceptances and one waitlist at that point. I was in at Stanford, MIT, UChicago, NYU (with a full-ride), Rice, WUSTL and a med school program, along with a myriad of other schools that were prestigious. Ivy Leagues, might-as-well be Ivy Leagues, and my safety schools. I just knew I would be accepted to Old Crimson. I was feeling pretty confident. Scratch that, arrogant. It was my fate. I knew it was. I worked for it, I wanted it with every fiber of my being. When I drove home so I could check the fateful e-mail, I knew I was driving home to destiny. Although I didn’t know it at the time, I was.
Not only was I rejected (politely, I might add) from both Harvard and Yale but my dreams since fourth grade were crushed. To add insult upon injury, I was accepted to my dream school’s “enemy”—Princeton. My life became the epitome of irony. I was shocked, and while pleasantly surprised, I was suddenly overwhelmed. A few minutes after I checked my Harvard rejection, checked my Yale rejection, and was sent crying again by my Princeton acceptances—my parents wanted an answer. “Where are you going to college in September?” And at that moment, I couldn’t decide, because nothing was adding up. I could only see a blur of my tears and desperation. I was out of my element, crying that is. I was out of control. I was angry and disappointed and nothing could compare to my idealized version of Harvard. And I was mad that my parents were so urgent for me to make a decision that day I got my final letters, although I had a month of time to decide.
My anger toward my parents did not begin then, at the moment where I needed them the most to simply hug me and to say “It’s okay. It all worked out. If anything…Harvard and Princeton are equally ranked.” Instead I was served a huge platter of decision-making and I couldn’t pull out the ingredients. It was a huge mess of intertwined spaghetti noodles. No, my anger began over the extensive time period of college applications and my drift away from my parents. They were continual sources of stress, unwanted advice, and unnecessary strife. In the midst of studying for a test, I would hear the same old—“Did you get any news from _____ (insert school here).” The response was always the same old—“No” (note a tone of annoyance).
It was through my disappointment that a connection was made. My parents gave me time to think (one entire day, lots a time to plan the next four years of life, aye?) and while they jokingly kept an eye on me, they said all the right things. “We’re so proud of you. You’ve accomplished a lot. You’re from a small school in Louisiana and now you’re going to go to an amazing school!” The words were only a drop in the bucket then, but now they are sources of encouragement for me to get through the last trying days of senior year.
It took the failure of a long-time dream for me to understand my parents again, for me to really talk to them. They were right, everything does happen for a reason. Now I am ready to embark on the next stage of my life in the school that fits me better than I imagined (I took a college match quiz—and apparently Princeton’s the only school that fits me 100%, in comparison to my 68% match with Harvard. Go figure).
The long night passed as I found the dawn in my disappointment. So I said yes to Princeton with the full confidence that my parents were behind me. Although the nagging has begun once again: “When will you get housing forms? Are you sure you need a Facebook before college? Why haven’t you heard anything from the college yet? Are you sure you’ve committed?” I still know that my parents are with me every step of the way.