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’Twas six weeks before prom and all through the school
Reacting to the word with an “Ugh” was the rule.
With college applications still fresh in our minds
Now its a date we still had to find.
One Thursday morning we woke up with a fright
A prom dress group on Facebook had appeared overnight.
“They’re going to run out of dresses!” we all swore up and down.
“These all look the same” we soon realized with a frown.
And if dresses are stressful that doesn’t even compare
To the struggle to create a date out of midair.
It would be easy to envy boys with the power to choose
But really, with prom, one can only lose.
Now that promposals have started there is no place to hide
The Disney channel movies, they shouldn’t have lied.
Looking for a knight in shining armor is far from realistic
But c’mon, promposing while skydiving, what the fuck?
Clearly this whole process is anything but calm
By the way, have you seen my ticket for after prom?
Speaking of after prom we still need to find a Hamptons house
At this point all we can afford is one big enough for a mouse.
I still haven’t bought my actual ticket for prom
Class government’s reminders are starting to sound like my mom.
We might be blowing this out of proportion
There’s really no need for all the commotion.
Prom is just a time to have fun with friends
Where we can dance and laugh before high school ends
We should all just —
Wait, he asked who?
I had expected to feel happy and done and carefree and just plain free. I had expected to finally be able to focus on writing and reading and learning and everything I had put off doing until “after I’m done with college shit.” I had expected to use the lowered expectations and lack of grades that “count” as a chance to “explore my interests” and “pursue my passions” and to finally practice more of what I preach. Instead, I just feel like a blob. Instead, I just feel, well, bleh.
I’m not saying that I am not enjoying the perks of being an (almost) second semester senior, because I am. Driving where I want, when I want, grabbing fro yo with friends on a Wednesday night, and occasionally (not so occasionally) treating homework as a suggestion is great, don’t get me wrong. It’s just that I had always expected senior slump to be more of a choice. I had always expected it to be equivalent to not caring, but I do care – just not enough to actually do anything productive.
So now, instead of coming home and starting my homework, I plop down on my living room couch and watch an episode of Scandal. Now, instead of going to Starbucks to write from 7-9, I think about how I don’t possibly have time considering how much homework I still have left as I start another episode of Scandal.
Now that I am not stressed out about grades and college and clubs and applications, I find myself worrying about different things, real things. Like how empty I feel without the validation that comes from getting an A. Like how maybe playing the game of school is what I’m good at and maybe it’s too late to learn how to learn. Like how much I want to do something that means something but I don’t know how and anyway it’s easier to just watch other people do things that mean things on TV.
Maybe I’m just overcomplicating senioritis. Maybe I just don’t know how to properly slump. Or maybe I’m exhausted. Maybe I’ve been exhausted since the second half of freshman year and maybe it took being done focusing on college to realize it.
Maybe senior slump isn’t a decision made sixth eights of the way through high school but a gradual bleh, a loss of motivation and of direction as a result of no longer knowing what we’re working towards.
They aren’t judging you, they’re judging your application. They aren’t judging you, they’re judging your application. They aren’t judging you, they’re judging your application. Who am I kidding – I JUST WANT TO KNOW.
I’m not allowed to freak out yet. I still have almost an entire week. I’ll just write some other applications to take my mind off of it and to remind myself that there are other schools in the world.
Okay, College Option B: “Why Us?” What do you mean why you? You have a lot of nerve to ask why you when my ED school had a prompt that was both creative and interesting. Actually, it was a pain in the neck. But still, I really don’t want to write this. And what if I do end up getting in? Then I would have wasted time I could have been spending doing homework, or watching Friends, or, you know, freaking out.
I can’t focus. Why can’t I focus? I couldn’t possibly have more things to do and less motivation to do them. Maybe I’ll write a blog post. Maybe people really don’t want to hear it. Maybe I don’t want to hear it. Maybe this is a good time to take an indefinite hiatus.
I guess I’ll ask my friends what they think.
Friend 1: Wait, you already got into college? Alright not talking to you for awhile…
Friend 2: Wait, she didn’t get in. Alright, it’s clearly not past the three week waiting period to bring up college again.
Friend 3: Okay, that’s a lot of obscenities. Okay, she doesn’t seem to be in a very good place. Okay, wow, she’s freaking out. Okay, relatively speaking, I’m at least a little sane.
No new emails. No new posts on the admissions website. I guess maybe I could check college confidential. Maybe another applicant who is in the exact same boat as me will have insight into what the admissions officers are thinking. Rachel who are you kidding, you have the page bookmarked for christ’s sake. Well maybe I could check it again. As in, maybe another applicant who is in the exact same boat as me will have gained insight into what the admissions officers are thinking within the past five minutes.
My friend heard back. They said December 15th for her too and she heard back. WHY HAVEN’T I HEARD BACK? Will pressing refresh make the email come faster? Better try, you never know.
Also, I should probably open my backpack at some point this week…
I think I’m having a heart attack. Is this what it feels like to have a heart attack? I think I read on Stumbleupon that eating chocolate reduces anxiety. I think I just completely made that up to rationalize all the chocolate I’ve been eating. This isn’t my fault, it’s the holidays – there’s a lot of chocolate lying around. And also chocolate makes everything better. Except it doesn’t really seem to be helping. WHY ISN’T IT HELPING?
Holy shit holy shit holy shit holy shit holyshitholyshitholyshitholyshit. But they said it would come tomorrow. On day zero, not day one. Well actually, they said the latest it would come is tomorrow. But still, I was supposed to be alone. I was supposed to be lying on my couch in fuzzy pajamas while drinking hot chocolate and watching reruns of Friends. I was not supposed to be in Comp Gov. And this is why it’s bad to check your phone during class.
Should I open it?
Should I not open it?
I’m going to open it.
I can’t look.
What if instead of detailing our GPAs and number of Facebook friends and SAT scores and early decision schools and attractiveness ratings out of 10, our hypothetical name-tags showed only our greatest fears? If going into any conversation or interaction or relationship, we already understood the motives behind the other person’s words and actions? If we spent less time judging each other on the manifestations of our fears and more time acknowledging our fear itself?
Just write it. But I don’t want to. But you should. But I don’t want to. Fair. That’s fair. It is, isn’t it? But Rachel, you chose to do an independent study. You want to be a writer. You like to write. But I have my whole life to write. What’s stopping you from thinking that your entire life? If you keep this attitude up, you’re going to be lying in some hospital somewhere with an IV stuck in your arm and you’re going to realize that you have no life left to write with. Well that’s a little extreme. Drama Queen much? You know you’re just being lazy. But I’m tired. And I have tests to study for. And homework to do. And essays to write that actually count. But you’re not going to study for your tests. Or do your homework. Or write your essays. You’re going to go watch Friends. And while it’s loading, you’re going to Facebook stalk that sophomore who had that Sweet 16 this weekend. Fair. That’s a really fair point. Thank you. But it’s not like anyone actually reads this. Yes, they do. Let’s be honest, the only people who read my posts are the three people who help me write them…and Mr. Mounkhall. But he doesn’t really count. Haven’t you not done a post in over a week? That’s not true, shut up…. Maybe. Still, shut up. You should write something creative. And fun. Your last posts have been kind of sad. True…. Maybe I can make this the post for today? Seriously? Yeah. Alright. I’m fine with that. I guess it could be kind of funny. And I really want to watch Friends. And I really don’t feel like writing this. And I really want to know those 27 Painfully Awkward Things That Never Stop Being Awkward. So this was productive? I think so. For being the angel in this situation, you’re pretty lazy. I’m a Second Semester Senior, so shut up. No you’re not…. Well then. This is awkward. I’m basically there, though,…in my mind, at least. You’re a really bad angel.… I, like, could really care less. You’re a really, really bad angel. Whatever.
I had expected to feel anxious. Or excited. Or relieved. Or something a little stronger than ambivalent. My whole life had led up to this moment. Three years of cramming, of freaking out, of constantly feeling like there was more I could and should be doing. Five years of community service I didn’t do out of the goodness of my heart. Nine years of violin lessons even though I had wanted to quit after four. Eleven years of being a Girl Scout – please don’t judge me – because it shows “wholesomeness” and “continuity” and “leadership.”
But as my cursor hovered over the maroon submit button and my mom hovered over my shoulder, I was not compelled to go back and check for grammatical errors for the hundredth time. My palms didn’t start to sweat, my heart didn’t race, and I did not feel as if a great burden had been lifted off of my shoulders. When I clicked submit and my mom asked me how I felt, the most accurate response I could come up with was, “eh.”
A few “Just applied to college!” texts later, I flipped open my math binder and started the homework due the next day. I almost felt like I should have been freaking out – god knows six months ago I would have been. But when it came down to it, it was just another thing. It was just another task crossed off of my multi-colored To Do list. It was just one of ten applications I’ll be submitting if I don’t end up getting in. And that’s the thing – either I will get in, or I won’t.
Is it my dream school? Yes.
Do I really, really want to go there? Yes.
Do I think it’s perfect for me? Yes.
Am I going to be just as happy somewhere else? Yes.
While the prospect of being judged is terrifying, at the end of the day, the admissions people aren’t judging us – they’re judging our applications. Seventeen years of relationships made and broken, of opinions formed and reformed, of questions asked and answered cannot possibly fit within the confines of the Common Application. There is no way for them to know my favorite joke, or the fact that Sal knows my drink order when I walk into the deli, or how I reread the entire Harry Potter series during last year’s spring break, or my thoughts on the NSC regulations, or that I’m afraid of the color orange, or how I once sprained my ankle doing a cartwheel in my kitchen. There is no way for them to know me.
What can be read quickly and used to compare us to each other, however, are the numbers we have been compressed into and the 650 words whose boundaries we have tried to squeeze our “Why Me?” essays into.
Just because our applications flatten us does not mean we have to allow ourselves to be. We are more than our applications. I’m not saying that it will be easy to remember this as the date crawls closer to December 15th—because it won’t be. I have no doubt that the fear and anxiety and dread will begin to set in as the prospect of rejection becomes more real, but we do not have to let them dominate us.
A rejection letter is not equivalent to failure. It is not an indication that we’re not smart and qualified and special, because we are. Going to a certain school is not going to dictate my happiness unless I allow it to. Will you?