I remember how nervous we all felt, my friends and I, about the whole thing. Which colleges should we apply to? What do people write about for the common app essay? And of course, the possibly life-altering question: to ED (early decision) or to not ED. But by far the worst part of the whole process was the wait. The painful and oh-so-agonizing waiting where you second guess yourself on whether your application looks good enough to your dream school.
Eventually the acceptance letters all came and we got our answers. All my friends, content with their choices, spent their summers excited to go to college.
Me? Not so much.
I’m not a pessimistic person. Typically I look on the bright side of things. I’m not quick to anger but I am quick to worry. And worrying took up most of my time this summer. Don’t get me wrong, I am so excited to get to Penn State (two days!). I can’t wait to further my education and broaden my knowledge about the world. (And enjoy myself as well.) But I couldn’t help but worry.
In the beginning I felt excited to go to college. But soon the excitement turned into a nervous anxiousness. In the beginning, my friends and I talked about all the things we would do, what classes we would take. We talked about how crazy it was that we would finally get out of our tiny town, our bubble. We would soon meet people from all walks of life but would never forget to text and call.
I almost felt bad for feeling excited to leave. My mother would soon become an “empty nester.” I consider myself incredibly immature and not really ready “adult” just yet. I’ll miss my mother’s cooking (if you tried some you’d cry too), NJ bagels and everything else that came with my hometown. I think you get the picture.
I worried about making any friends or matching with a freaky roommate (she’s not). I stressed about doing well in school and losing my scholarship. Sure, these things could go wrong, and my worries carried some validity. I don’t know what overcame me this summer. I guess it’s the fact that I’m leaving home and taking this gigantic step. But I only looked at the negative side instead acknowledging that even though dark days surely lie ahead, they will all help me develop into an adult.
My mind didn’t change until a read an article about fear by the Isha Institute of Inner Sciences. My mother, after wondering why the f–k I hide myself under a blanket 12 hours a day, sent it to me. And this stood out to me: “Fear is simply because you are not living with life, you are living in your mind. Your fear is always about what’s going to happen next. That means your fear is always about that which does not exist. If your fear is about the non-existent, your fear is hundred percent imaginary.”
I never even realized that my fear, rational or irrational, all focused on what’s to come. Because I focused so much on what has yet to happen I never stopped to think of another possibility. Whatever horrible thing I conjured up is not truth.
I don’t know what’ll happen; no one does. If I sit here and worry about the “what ifs” I’ll only think negatively. And me thinking negatively isn’t just a simple, unpleasant though that crosses my mind briefly. It keeps me awake at night, no matter how irrational.
Now this hit hard. I spent a decent portion of my summer worrying about the uncertain future. Even when I went out with my friends, my worries played in my head. Trust me, parties while you’re bugging are not fun. I’m no fun around the keg. Worrying can be good but in moderation and with a more realistic outlook.
If I spend all my time worrying, it’ll stop me from enjoying life, I’ll plague myself with thoughts while everyone else enjoys life. I just need to acknowledge that the future is less like Murphy’s Law than I thought.
As I write this, it’s my second to last night in my town. When I looked at this situation months ago, it seemed surreal to even think about moving out.
But now as I’m in it, it hasn’t hit me. That’s how it works for most things. Your body kind of creates a barrier so your emotions don’t get too worked up, or maybe the excitement keeps you from feeling it
Yes, I feel excited. I’m so pumped to go to Penn State. I am so excited to learn new things and meet new people. I’m excited to learn (through any means, even if it’s bumps in the road) how to live independently. Yes, bad things inevitably happen in life, dark days surely lie ahead. But everything becomes a learning experience if you think glass half full.