Once upon a time there lived a boy in a castle on a hill. The marvelous red brickwork which peered through its wooded surroundings, standing as a beacon for creativity and wonder. The boy was able to tap into the essence of his new home and was able to write stories, the likes of which had never been seen before.
No, these are not the words to a bedtime story.
Rather this is the fairy tale I had been telling myself up until two weeks ago. For as long as I can remember, my goal has always been to make it into the Ivy League. Even when I didn’t fully understand what that meant, my understanding was that if I could just work hard and get accepted into one of these prestigious schools then I would be happy for the rest of my life. As I grew older and began to understand what I would have to do to reach this goal, I never stopped striving to achieve what I considered to be the Mount Olympus of academia.
I Finally Accomplished My Dream And Everything Seemed Perfect.
Fast-forward to Spring 2019. I received the letter I had been waiting for my whole life: the acceptance into Cornell’s Class of 2023. My heart skipped a beat. As I read the short, typed-out message that would determine the fate of the next four years of my life, I was filled with disbelief. Of course, I ran to my parents’ room to tell them the news. After that, I immediately started doing as much research as I could on Cornell–the place that would become my new home. It all seemed too good to be true.
At the end of my high school career, I had begun to develop an interest in writing, particularly creative writing. Now I would be given the opportunity to study at an Ivy League university with one of the most beautiful campuses in the world. On top of this, I soon found out that I would be living at the Risley Residential College, a program house that looks unarguably like a castle (they even host a Harry Potter night every year!). I truly believed that I had been placed in the perfect atmosphere and with the perfect muse to allow my passion for writing to flourish. Turns out, that may not have been the case.
I Knew Right Away That This Perfect World I Had Been Working Towards Didn’t Exist.
As soon as my classes began, I immediately saw how drastic of a difference Cornell and my small-town high school had between them. From the huge buildings to the new concepts that I had never been introduced to before, everything seemed overwhelming. The reality of this new challenge began to darken the vibrant mosaic of my college expectations. This was real life. This was my life. And I know, now, that Ivy League life in all of its glory was little more than another difficult rung in my educational ladder with later nights and longer assignments.
I did all I could to hold on to this image of a fantasy that I had maintained for so long. But within my first week, the belief that I would tap into some magical well of inspiration and miraculously thrive had almost completely faded from my mind.
Friends were difficult to come by, but over time I made a few. Organizations were hard to convince myself to enter, but over time I joined a few. Homework seemed impossible to manage, but over time I was able to map out a working schedule. I introduced myself to enough new interests that I was able to stay distracted.
Still, my sadness came back every now and then.
No matter how many hours of studying I put in, how many marching band practices I went to, or how much time I spent with my friends, I didn’t feel like Cornell was the place where I belonged. My dream had been exposed to harsh reality and everything had changed.
However, each time I look out my castle window onto the slope of the grassy hill, I’m reminded that my fairy tale has only just begun.