March 31st/April 1st is the day when thousands of kids will receive notifications from prospective colleges - this letter might be for one of them - but it is also for all of them.
Through all the eighteen seasons in the suns, through the autumns and springs, through the winters and summers, as we held your hand when you tried to walk with your feet firmly on the ground, as we steadied the bike that you were so determined to peddle, as we kissed the bruises that you got whenever your feet faltered, we knew, with a heavy heart that there would be days and times when you would have to walk the road by yourself and face the seasons - with the rain and heartbreak it might bring with it. And as this road brings you to one of the date dreaded by college-bound kids - the day where a college email tells you whether you are good enough or not for them, this is what we want to tell you.
That it is just an email.
An email based on a few pages of some numbers and words. And even though the numbers might show how perfect your grades might be, or how impressive your standardized scores are - they will not show the sleepless nights you toiled to get them - the way you worked endlessly with determination, and at times frustration, to get through those archaic algorithms and convoluted scientific concepts. Those 500 words essay, might provide a brief glimpse into your life, but it will just be a peek. The tired admission officers will not ever be able to see the story of you - they were not with you when you taught yourself how to play an obscure instrument or published blogs, or when you cried after reading Gone with the Wind and started to write a sequel. They might see your list of interests and activities but they, perhaps are not able to understand your passion. They were not there when you decided to go skydiving for your 18th birthday or when you started to teach refugee kids. As they pour over thousands of applications, how can they determine the person you are and are meant to be. The one person who can ever define who you are, is you. A rejection, a waitlist notification or even an acceptance, is not the rejection or validation of you or your dreams.
Much like how DeBeers has managed to convince the civilization that diamonds are a woman's best friend, we have managed to create a culture where an 18 years' old self-worth is determined on the school they end up going to - is it an Ivy League or top tier? Is it prestigious enough? How impressive is it? Is it well-recognized? Does the name carry a weight? Every year, insanity increases. What does an acceptance rate of less than 10% mean? Does it mean that for every 100 applications, all 90+ of those applicants are worth somehow less? Did they lead a lesser life? Are they not worthy enough?
DeBeers might have led us to believe that a diamond is something that we need but have you ever tried crying to a diamond when your heart breaks - have you ever tried sharing a moment of joy with that piece of stone? That shiny stone might give us joy when we first receive it - we might show it off proudly but along the way, it can lose its luster, get damaged or even lost. A diamond does not get to decide the joy that life has for you.
An email, or even that lone letter, from an admissions office, does not define your worth.
The Dean of Admissions of an Ivy League once mentioned in an interview that more than half the applicants they receive are all eligible. Since they can't take all in, it becomes a matter of luck of the draw - it is, he said, much like playing a lottery. But we want you to know that jackpot is not an admission to a particular college. You have already hit it by being the person you have become. Your dreams are yours - they are not formed by going to a particular college. The road that you pave for yourself can be started anywhere. It does not need to have a specific address as a starting point.
So as you sit in front of your computer with a pounding heart, waiting for answer, we want you to know that we already know the answer - the answer, has always been blowing in the wind. We do not need a college to tell us whether our daughter is worthy enough or not. We know she is. You should know you are.
March 31st or April 1st.There has never been a day when we have not been immensely proud of you. And there never will be -