This weekend I sat in a room with several hundreds of kids under the age of 18 who were some of the best and brightest in the country. They had traveled abroad, had impressive GPAs, were leaders in their schools and communities, and were semifinalists for the same scholarship as me. That’s right, I’m included in these students. Go me!
As I was sitting with these other students, feeling overwhelmed by the amount of accomplishments being thrown in my face, I was thinking about how if I win this scholarship I will be around these people for at least the next four years of my life. But do I really want that?
Knowing what I want in my life is sometimes really difficult for me. I moved around a lot as a kid, and I was shy, so my life motto was just to take what I was given and not throw a fit. For example, I spent middle school with a group of misfits with whom I was really uncomfortable being around because I didn’t know what else to do. Eventually I made new friends and sort of eased out of the old group, but it took me THREE YEARS! Knowing what I want, and how to get it, is tough.
If I win this scholarship I will be a leader. I will take part in lots of conferences and retreats and global education projects, etc. It’s one of those big deals that means I can attend university for free and get to do one of my favorite things in the world, serve. However, am I willing to give up some of what I want to do such an intensive service? I had a sit down with myself and here’s what the conversation entailed.
What is your ideal university experience?
Attend a small-ish private university, have a roommate with whom I can get along, take a course load that interests me and helps me towards my dream of being a journalist. I want to be involved in clubs and do service projects with those clubs. I want to spend a whole year abroad in London and learn and live the culture that’s fascinated me for so long. I want to make friends that I will know the rest of my life. I want to be surrounded by people who are ethnically and personality-wise diverse, who have new stories about their childhood that differ vastly from mine. I want downtime where I can just sit down with my friends and watch old TV shows. I want to have that one professor who, when people ask me who inspired me during university, I can pull up their name with no hesitation. I want an experience that is going to expand my mind, body, and spirit.
What will you be sacrificing if you win this scholarship?
My normal university experience. I just want to be a normal kid sometimes, who doesn’t have lots going on and can just sit around eating Oreos on her couch and watch Once Upon a Time. I spent high school giving up being a normal high schooler so that I could be the best student I could be, and I really miss it sometimes. I worry that I’m going to do the same in university, and I don’t know if that will make me happy.
So what do you want?
To leave university knowing that I’ve made the best possible use of my time there while keeping busy and taking time to myself.
So, yeah, that’s what I really want. And as more acceptance/rejection letters come my way, and financial aid letters, and scholarship letters, I’m going to keep this me-to-me conversation in mind. Is taking this offer or going to this school really giving me what I want?
I write this to urge you to DO WHAT YOU WANT. Have a conversation with yourself like I did and see whether or not you’re doing the things that will make you happy. Don’t be bullied around by what you are given, change your life so that it fits your needs.
Have a great MLK day and stay classy Internet,
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