So, I finished my applications.
I gave in and dropped one, so my Common Application list only reads (19) instead of that sweet, maximum (20). How did this happen? I told myself after clutching January 1 supplements that I am never, ever going to do that again. I’m going to finish my January 15 ones right away.
Did that happen?
Of course not.
It’s a new year and I cannot remember the last time I’ve arbitrarily assigned something to be a form of renewal. Not new numbers, not clockwork, not time or dates or anything that can be quantified, really. My rebirth is in something far less tangible: in moments of realization while staring at the bedroom ceiling, in showers or the procrastination before one, in long drives home when I can’t fall asleep and instead feel the leather of the car seat tugging and marking my skin when normally it should be numb and I should sleep and drift off and feel nothing until that certain pattern of turns that I just memorize and wake up to right before we head home.
I wonder if I’ll remember those patterns a few months from now. The bump of the car ride, walking through the gate, or the nod of the sky down towards my daily grind; I wonder if any of this matters. If I should be taking int
The hardest part about this process, as I’ve told many others, is the uncertainty of it all. It’s either me depositing my enrollment at a local university (of which the only two that I’ve applied to, I got into, first choice and all). My first decision from my international applications comes this February 2, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. I have no idea what it could mean, or what to expect; I just know that soon, I’ll be facing a string of rejections–something that is honestly unfamiliar to me, something that I have to learn inevitably.
Before the Ateneo decisions came out, I was afraid. I totally messed up the math portions of the test. I literally forgot how to do basic problems involving averages because my mind was so convoluted and out of it; it came from panic and fear and realization that I hadn’t studied or prepared at all–the most preparation coming from me is taking pictures of someone’s reviewer a week beforehand and not really doing anything with those questions until the night before and panicking a bit because what am I doing am I ready oh god. The last thing I remember from that night was relearning the trigonometric values for common angles, then everything a blur. Dizzy from the test. First post-standardized testing coma. I was convinced that, if anything, I’d just get into my third choice–the only non-honors course from my selection, which was Creative Writing. I would be fine with that.
When they announced that results were coming out in a few hours, I started panicking. No way I got into Computer Science with my mind at that state.
I watched a livestream, the blur passing by an abundance of As from Abad, Acuna and beyond. Then, I saw a glimpse of a name a bit too long. I paused and rewinded a bit, waited for the 180p to manifest itself into at least a barely visible 360p, then I saw my name.
I apologized to the people I confessed my fear to earlier, and then I felt nothing. Like another check on the college spreadsheet, except it isn’t even going on it. It’s just a fact. I waited again for DLSU, my name passing and flashing in with a “Congratulations,” and all I could think was that it was just a fact.
It’s literally impossible.
I apply, and pour my soul out into things that will never matter. Stupid things that humans do, right? Acting beyond rationality and logic, 0.0000001%, nothing redeeming, nothing that could potentially…
Yet, I know. So I tell myself to not open it. Because I know what’s behind that decision portal already, and I know no packages are going to make their way here. I know my entire human being is a waste; that even if I were born another way or took some other path–it’s the fact that this one didn’t quite make the cut for basic human decency. I hate myself more than anyone else could, really.
Whenever I think about college acceptances, I fantasize about making everybody around me proud. I think about their cheers when saying, “See? I always told you,” or “of all people, it would be you.” I think about how they would congratulate me in the hallways and recite the names of the colleges I get in during graduation, I think about receiving some sort of recognition for my pursuits in science and technology–sometimes, I dream about the silver MIT tube, the celebratory dance and how I would be the first after someone so godlike last year. That I won’t have to worry about being “average” because I made it into my dream school, one of the only places on the list that I breathe in and long to do countless things towards and how I am going to make up for anyone’s doubts–I will live in those hallways and produce research and laugh and smile because I am driven by creation and engineering and numbers and the world and I know they are too.
Then, reality comes again, and I think about myself on the fourteenth of March (or, a day later for me), in the morning and opening my first rejection and telling my parents only weeks later and apologizing for the money spent and how the interview could have went better and maybe, maybe if I tested better and was a bit more genuine and just understood how statistics and the odds were always against me, were always a bitter war that waged on and on that I could never just step in and save myself from because how I take tests in sittings I cannot begin to understand dictate my future and the boundaries that hold and maybe in my whole life I’ve never really deserved places like this and then:
I have to forget the image of my mom, screenshotting and finally speaking up against all the repeats. Alternatively, the weight placed on my grandmother, the smile in knowing that I was the first in my family to have gone on to a school of this caliber, let alone abroad. I have to forget the picturesque bow upon graduation, them trailing off the list of the 24 schools I’ve applied to with more than half of them as acceptances (hopefully), I have to forget the me that just talks about college applications and the fear of the future because I have no idea what living in the moment means or counts for.
My mind erases the image of me struggling, probably placed in the most basic of introductory math classes to a single step up in science, but shining in every other aspect. I imagine myself, unafraid, unapologetic and laughing in the streets of New England: embracing the cold, away from the mini tundra I create and conquer in my own room for it opens up a whole new world of bliss and understanding–interning at KhanAcademy, doing actual legitimate research for the first time, speaking in a room where everyone else is just as fearful but infinitely bright. I forget about the what-if connections and stare at the 0.05% acceptance rate, how I am not special, how my personality isn’t a precarious ray of light that would stun the admissions committee when I still often remain the ghost of the room when my anxieties bring me down and escort me to a self-made coffin. I think about how they’ll look over the numbers and the words, sigh and vote off an easy rejection: how my numbers alone cannot satisfy, and suffice to say–I am just not enough.
I think about how I would write 50,000 words for MIT. Maybe even more. But then, I’d do that for everyone.
What have I done, really?
I’m going somewhere I deserve, I think.
Even if I dread the place, that means it’s up to me to suffer and make the most out of it or just live through it in the pain and die or something. If I love the place, then”fit” is a word that means something and is of semblance. I think about how I’m desperate to find myself at a place that would also love me the way I love it, so I’m living on the brink of everything and on the notion that it would make sense, I hope. It would be what I deserve, whatever it is.
At times, I wonder what I’ve accomplished in seventeen years of living. After realizing how my answers shit from self-anger, brink of relapse “nothings” to god-complex variants of “everything,” the answer is truly subjective. What matters though, is everything laid out objectively, what they can draw out from the hours per week and the weeks per year and how I cannot possibly contain every night I’ve cried working on something believing that I could do this until I drop dead, or the days where I revel in how far we’ve gone.
Nothing, I’ve done nothing in the sense that everyone around me does make me feel like it’s nothing. Nothing in the sense that it feels like I’m getting to every deadend; that perhaps if this is what I want to do as well, that my life’s journey is going to take me to this hell. I feel remorse and anger whenever I hear people speaking about their story and journey–thinking “holy shit I do what they do in months in mere days” and how my drive will never really set me apart if I don’t make the connections and whatnot to push things forward.
But, I don’t enjoy talking or pushing myself up for awards. I enjoy making, writing, discovering. I am perfectly content with being undiscovered myself for as long as I can endlessly fashion things and pour my soul into it all that I do. Every single second not spent doing something I label productive, I call wasted–I feel endlessly lost to a system that drives me for all the reasons, and I call myself nothing and become nothing indeed.
What have I accomplished? Nothing, really. Nothing at all.
Everyone else is so fucking fantastic, but there’s a point where this no longer drives me to do better and, with zero affirmation, makes me wonder why I am here at all, in this place. Why I walk through these halls and see how depressing it is that our lessons are behind and that potential and future is dead and lost in redirections and waitlists and should I not be more than this, part of some bigger picture?
He is so fucking condescending, but it’s for the best–reaffirming all my fears. I will never be happy with who I am, and I will never go anywhere.
I honestly don’t think my “fit” is here. There’s something and a longing for more, there’s this dreaded unfamiliarity and the way institutions here look at their students–different and snide and condescending in contrast to the value and worth I feel, even for a moment, in places beyond. I think about how I feel absolutely nothing: pity, remorse, a wish that perhaps, someone else more deserving and more fitting would take this slot–determined only by useless numbers and a transcript and a score from a poorly-made test.
Then, I think about self-worth and belief and that maybe I am also what I want: I am the passion I have and the person I portrayed in my writing, I am the ambition in cluttered additional informations and the fear in the common application essay. I am the drive in endless hours and the soft voice with nervous laughter trembling in the interviewer’s notes, the standout standin in the recommendations. I am vulnerability in the short answers and strange, awkward quips in lapses of verse: the rushed submissions and the fourth read that still doesn’t make sense.
Perhaps, I deserve to feel something. Perhaps it is universal that we do not always get what we deserve; in its most theistic sense, this is all a chaotic dance. No fate, no bigger things. All that is left is to pull it out, a lock or clasp that puts us out of our misery.
Sorry in advance to everyone that believed in me.