I'd be lying if I said I haven't freaked out a couple -- or a lot -- of times in the past months over applying to applications. The day before any standardized test scores come out, you can usually find me on Twitter stressing out. It's weird that I'm a senior and that college and scholarship applications are no longer far-off, abstract concepts but a very real and very challenging process.
You see, I'm not that prodigious kid who has every single SAT vocabulary word memorized. My college essays won't be full of pedantic hogwash. I don't have a perfect ACT composite score. I barely passed my AP Chemistry exam this May. I spend too much time on Twitter, and I sometimes forget about homework assignments. My family doesn't have the ability to send me on college tours or hire tutors who have 100 percent success records at increasing scores. It took me a long time to accept the fact that my class rank dropped after I transferred schools before sophomore year because of different GPA policies, and I will graduate high school without having completed every AP test that ever existed.
Even so, I'm okay with that. To me, none of that really matters. There are far more positives in my life than negatives. I'm going into this application season with a confidence that's really bloomed in the past year or so -- one that continues expanding even today.
So many other kids are intimidated by the idea that colleges -- especially their dream schools -- have the power to invalidate all the years they've lived since preschool. Like them, I've basically spent my entire life getting ready for college applications, but I firmly believe that no college has the power to invalidate my very existence.
Yes, I went into the application season with anxiety and stress, but I didn't go in with fear. I'm not going to be intimidated or afraid of any college. The colleges I do or don't get into don't define me. I define myself. There will never be a point in my life where I introduce myself like this: "Hi, I'm Isabel. I got rejected from [insert college here] five years ago."
I'm confident in myself and in the story behind me. I'm the girl who went into preschool without knowing English. I only spoke Korean before starting school, and the teacher still remembers me as the only kid she's ever had who cried all day long for the entire first week. In 2014, I got a perfect score on the English section on my first attempt at the ACT.
Yes, I barely passed my AP Chemistry exam, but I have one 4 and six other 5s in my AP exam history. I spend too much time on Twitter, but I also dedicate more time than anyone expects of me when it comes to the various clubs and honor societies I lead. I'm just as passionate about spreading kindness and raising money for life-changing charities as I am about Taylor Swift's music. My college essays won't have pedantic hogwash because I've sworn loyalty to words like "hogwash" and because I have my own style and voice when it comes to writing. Out of all the essays I've written, my favorite is about flower pins in hospitals. Acting like I know everything and every word in the English dictionary just doesn't work for me. My family isn't the most well-off, but I've never let that keep me from following -- and then achieving -- my dreams.
I've paved my own road to success and taken the road less traveled. (And I don't care how cliché that totally sounds.)
I'm more than just a number. I'm proud and confident of all the hard work and dedication I've put into my years of schooling. My résumé, even though it still needs a lot of tweaking, is my pride and joy because of all the work it reflects. I do things because I love them, not because they look good on a résumé, and I think that my résumé reflects even that.
I love the passion I've given my clubs and my work for the Huffington Post. I love the summer internship I had doing cancer research just as much as I love the career observation program I'm doing at the hospital last semester. I love that I don't feel like my lack of sports activities hinders my chances of getting into a prestigious college. I love that my achievements stand out and that my college and career counselor told me that she felt like she "just won the lottery" when I met with her on the first day of school. I love that she thinks all of my dream schools are real options for me -- not fantasies. (I also enjoy using anaphora too often for my own good.)
Despite how much I sometimes complain about getting three hours of sleep and running from place to place and meeting to meeting, I love my life. I love how crazy busy it is and how chaotic it is. It fills me with pride to swoop in to save the day and fix the problems that pop up in my clubs. I love being independent, and I love it when people feel like they can rely on me to get the job done.
I have a lot going for my life. I don't say any of this to sound entitled and braggy; I say that because it's true. I feel like I have the whole world on my side and a huge group of friends who are there to support me. I have a home in HuffPostTeen, and I have people who know exactly what I need to hear when I get nervous. (Shout-out to fellow blogger Jackson Barnett for being an amazingly great friend and for always checking up on me and saving me from panicking no matter how busy his life gets.) My friends and family are a web of support that enhances every aspect of who I am.
There is absolutely nothing I would change if I got to redo my life. Nothing. I'm proud of who I am and what I've accomplished, and the ultimate decision any college makes cannot dent that. If my dream colleges reject me, I'll know it's not because I'm incompetent or because I haven't done enough. I'll know that I gave it my all. I know that even if I end up with 10-plus rejection letters, I still wouldn't want to go back in time and change anything I've done. This is who I am, and if a college thinks that isn't good enough for them, then we're simply incompatible.
I'm phenomenally happy and pleased with my life, and at the end of the day, that's all that really matters.
So watch out, colleges. I'm coming for you, and I fully plan on being a force to reckon with, like what I imagine would happen if a semi-truck slammed into my tiny hatchback. In a few months, I'll be letting you know who I chose.
You'll see. Everything will work out in the end.
As Hamlet said, "The rest is silence."