I’m currently a junior in the last couple months of my second semester and you know what that means: the college application process is just around the corner.
It seems so funny typing it out like that. It almost feels unjust to condense everything that makes me feel this way into the single word ‘scared’. But really, it’s the dominant feeling that swallows me entirely every time I think about college.
And it’s not just getting in though, it’s which colleges to I want to get in to? Which schools will care for me and allow me to persue social science while giving me opportunity to make political change? Which colleges offer a prayer room for my Friday Salah? Which colleges care about women and will actively pursue justice for any mistreatment we might face? Which colleges provides a support system for their gay community? Which colleges will give me all of that and still be...afforadable?
And while those are all important questions-most importantly: what really is a moment in my life that changed my perspective on something?
I know what you’re thinking-this probably isn’t how you thought this article would go. Trust me, I would love my fear to just be confined to choosing the right college for me. But it extends farther than that.
It extends to facing what I’ve gone through these past three years and how it’s shaped who I am. And the easiest way I can symbolize beig forced to face the person I am is through college application essay prompts.
Honestly, this is kind of a way to make fun of colleges because nearly every single college application asks you to pinpoint a pivotal moment that changed your life forever-which is actually the most fustrating thing ever.
I guess this is technically one part of the whole maturing and growing process but it’s never really been one moment for me.
I never tackled my mental illness with one diagnoses.
I never learned to take tests after failing a single.
I never really ever learned anything after one moment. I’ve actually had to make the mistake a dozen times before I finally found a colution that would work for me.
I had to go through three consulors before I felt comfortable talking to one. I had to join maybe half a dozen clubs before I realized I should make my own.
I guess what I’m trying to say is I have made so many mistakes. Like, so many.
It’s been incredibly difficult getting diagnosed with anxiety, depression-while still taking three AP classes, while still taking two college classes on the side, while still actively participating in two clubs, while still applying for internships, while still attending the one I had.
It’s been so hard.
And I wish so bad that I could have just learned the answer to these things after a single memory or moment but I never did. I suffered.
I suffered so much.
And I don’t know how to explain this to colleges. I don’t know how to face alumni interviewers and explain why I failed physics freshmen year without breaking down. I’m geniunely terrified of all my failures and I’m scared at how...vulnerable I become in front of colleges.
I feel like, this is the sort of silent consensus amongst juniors hin highschool. That yes, researching is difficult. Meeting with consulors is difficult. Asking your teachers for a recomendation is difficult.
But there isn’t even a word to describe how difficult it is to face yourself and your failures throughout your academic career.
I’m a writer and I’m complaining about how hard it is to write about these hard moments.
I guess I have to stop diminishing myself.
Yes, I quit being the Mock Trial Team B captain after a mere six months, but I bounced back by founding Current Affairs Awareness Forum. Yes, I cried everyday after getting mediocre Bs in World History sophomore year, but I bounced by getting an A+ on my AP US History class this year. Yes, I suffered and still am suffering with my identity-whether it be through my religion or my sexual orientation or whatever-but I know who I am now. Sort of. I think. Actually, I don’t know-I’m still working on that one.
But I do know that I’ve to love the work I do, I’ve learned to find beauty in challenge, and resiliency from every defeat.
I’ve messed up and suffered a lot and I’m scared of presenting those awful parts of myself to these colleges. But at the same time, I’m so proud of everything I’ve done and how much I’ve grown and changed.
And I think this secretly true of every junior getting ready to write essays to impress colleges. I think we have made so many careless mistakes but I think each one of have also found something powerful wihin ourselves that we must not allow our insecurities diminish.
So I write this, and I hope, when we write about ourselves in these application essays, we find beauty and strength in our vulnerability. I write this and wish every single junior good luck and reassurance. I truly believe there potential in each of us evident in the things we’ve already become. Whether we overcame it after one mistake or twenty mistakes, we’ve suffered but we’ve made it far.
So I write to remind juniors: you’re not alone. It’s actually normal to feel like this.
But I urge you not to ignore what you have failed in but also not to allow those things to overshadow what you have florished in.
Be proud of where you are.
You’ve come a long way.
My name is Ishrat Zahan and I'm a 16-year-old Mogul Events Reporter for Brooklyn Technical High School who focuses on both contemporary issues and agential ones that directly affect me. Apart from being an events reporter for Mogul, I am also the president of Current Affairs Awareness Forum, where [...]