I GOT ACCEPTED!!!1:15:00 PM
This post is way way way late. Like, three weeks late. But I just wanted to share the good news with those of you who maybe don't follow me on Twitter, as well as give a little slice of life on college, schooling, and career choices.
Little disclaimer: I want to be as real and personal as possible in this post, because it's a very daunting subject that can scare many people away, so I'm just letting you know I may have some minor swearing ahead. I am only trying to be as open and transparent as possible, so I'm largely just writing as I feel and letting my thoughts flow, as though we're having a conversation.
I got accepted to my top two colleges! I found out a week apart from each college, both my in-state safety school (Florida State University - Go 'Noles!) and my number one, and quite possibly my dream school, Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts. Both colleges are ranked some of the top colleges in the nation, and I'm so incredibly elated over the fact that I have the opportunity to attend one next fall. I'm also eternally grateful to the teachers and counselors who helped me wade through hours of applications and wrote recommendation letters for me, as well.
Without making this sound like some sort of hokey awards show acceptance speech, I wanted to share this news with you all to let you know that if you're younger than a senior in high school right now, be it a middle schooler, freshman, sophomore, junior, or anywhere in between, know that though college can sound daunting and frightening and scary, it is a wonderful opportunity to learn and grow as a human being. That being said, I know and recognize that college isn't for everybody, and that's perfectly fine. Don't ever feel ashamed of your choice not to attend college in favor of pursuing a career you are passionate about as soon as you can. And if you do choose to go to college, do your absolute damnedest to stay on top of everything from your grades in classes to your SAT and ACT prep to your applications, essays, scholarships, and recommendation letters. Because it is so easy to let time slip away and before you know it, you have missed a crucial deadline, and there isn't any going back. Not to scare you or intimidate you, just know to get organized and be prepared. I used a notebook to organize everything from due dates to to-do lists, like a planner, to help myself keep track. And by all means, balance is key; enjoy your time with friends as a junior or senior while you still see one another every day for five days a week.
While the school system in America can feel elitist, as though it is only available to those fortunate enough to afford it, I want to say that I fully understand why many people are unable to or choose not to attend college. I, myself, and in the process of doing everything I know to do in order to close the monetary gap between what school I can currently afford to attend and the school I so dearly want to attend. If I stay in-state and go to my safety school, I won't really need to pay for much other than housing, insurance, and other miscellaneous costs because I have a prepaid college fund that's essentially paid off. But if I attend my top school, out-of-state costs alone are sky-high; coupled with housing, insurance, meals, and other necessities, it seems nearly impossible. But I've been given scholarships from the school, I'm applying to as many others as I possibly can, I'm applying for federal financial aid, and I'm doing everything my college counselor is suggesting I do in order to meet my goal and make my dream come true. I chose to attend college because I feel that it is necessary for the career field I want to go into, which is book publishing.
For the longest time I struggled with choosing which colleges to apply to based on what career I wanted to pursue. While it's perfectly acceptable to start college with your major undeclared, that frightened me because I wanted to choose a school that offered what I wanted. What if I got to college, undeclared, only to decide halfway through my first year to declare my major as one that wasn't offered? Now, in my mind that's a catastrophic outcome because of my anxiety and how I handle situations like this; any other person would likely just make things work for themselves somehow, by switching majors, schools, whatever. But that wasn't me. I flip-flopped between career ideas for months in my junior year while I was touring colleges, which just made things seem even worse. What I knew is what I certainly didn't want to do; and while this is helpful in narrowing things down, I still felt lost. I knew I needed some aspect of art in my career or I would be miserable without it. I looked at my hobbies: besides writing and reading, I was really into photography, graphic design, and cooking. I figured out a long time ago that I wouldn't enjoy writing as a career because I thought I wouldn't love it as much over time. My first ever paying job was freelance photography when a friend of mine reached out over Twitter asking for photographers to help her family's business and website. I jumped on it, I took a chance, and I loved it. Photography has always been a favorite hobby of mine, but I knew that if I wanted to make it into a career I would be fighting tooth and nail for clientele the rest of my life and that I would have to actually learn basics of operating cameras, lenses, and design software. While this all was something I knew I could handle and would enjoy, I just didn't see myself fitting into that niche for whatever reason. I had already ruled out being a professional chef and going to culinary school; while I love cooking and eating and FOOD, I don't work well under stress or pressure and working in a restaurant would not be my speed whatsoever.
And so on and on I went like this, ruling out everything I knew I certainly didn't want to do. One of my favorite filmmakers, Casey Neistat, made a vlog recently about college and careers. For a high school dropout who never went to college and went on to make a career out of making YouTube videos, getting a deal with HBO for a TV series in 2007, and now an entrepreneur who owns his own company, he had some pretty sound advice about college and deciding on a career: get a job doing something you hate, and you will spend every moment of digging ditches or washing dishes or walking dogs fixating on that one thing you wish you were doing instead.
While I didn't necessarily do that, it was the similar process of ruling out everything I knew I would hate that led to to choose publishing as a major. I hate math with a burning passion of a thousand fiery suns (too dramatic? eh. sorry.), I'd suck at engineering or anything science related, and I knew I would never be happy working a crappy 9-5 desk job that stuck me in a cubicle, twiddling my thumbs and going nowhere fast. Work was always a picture painted in my eyes as a drag, something you only did because you had to survive, and if you were lucky you could retire by the time you were 60 and maybe have made enough money to live out the next 20-30 years comfortable. What a bore that would be. My perspective changed the moment I heard the phrase "make a career of doing what you love, and you will never work another day in your life." I fixated on that, focusing on the things I loved with near tunnel vision: art, creativity, vibrancy, everything beautiful in my life has spurred from some form of art.
I have been making up stories for as long as I can remember, and writing has always been a huge part of my life. My family has had a handful of writers in every generation; my grandfather wrote a memoir about his time serving in the United States Marine Corps, my half-sister has always been a journalist, writes and publishes her own magazine, and has published her own cook books, my other grandfather always had a dream to open his own bookstore... I've grown up loving, living, and breathing words. But I always knew that my writing would never lead me down the path of being a writer for a career. I dislike most journalistic writing, because it feels to formulaic and structured for my tastes; too much like a school assignment rather than an organic work I create. I have never been interested in writing a novel or becoming a writer in that sense; I've settled into a niche of writing creative nonfiction and poetry. So as someone who has been an avid reader their whole life and always yearned to have a hand in the process, I can't believe it took me so long to decide on publishing as a career. I use the word "decide" instead of "settle" because it's always been a choice; never a last resort or something that happened by mistake. I never want to settle. I want to continue learning and growing until I am the best version of me I can be.
Deciding on a career choice is confusing and weird and completely terrifying. I can't believe it took me so long to realize what was staring me in the face the whole time: publishing would be a way to maintain my love for reading and writing. I mean, essentially, I could read books for a living, editing manuscripts or becoming a publishing agent, whatever I come into in the field I know I'll be happy because I will be involved with what I love the most.
I wish I could say I've got it all taken care of at this point, that I'm ready to be thrust into the Real World and start adulting, getting my hands dirty, making stellar life choices, and breezing my way through college. The reality is that as I sit here writing this post, I'm drinking leftover coffee and eating dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets, trying to organize my life and juggle high school courses, my dual-enrollment college courses, yearbook obligations, and all-around trying to make ends meet and find enough money through grants, FAFSA, and scholarships so that I may attend my dream college out-of-state instead of my in-state safety school, and prepare myself for living on my own for the first time, making adulting choices and even mistakes, and all-around learning the ropes of being out in the world as I'm standing on the edge of the rest of my life. It's daunting, hell yes. But you know what else? It's so worth it. I'm taking risks. I might spend a few years of my life in debt. I might not. I might excel in my career, I may coast happily in the middle, or I may decide halfway through that I want to switch things up and try something different. I can't say for sure what lies ahead in my future, but the most important lesson I've learned is that I have all the time left in the world to live, decide, make mistakes, learn, grow, improve, and be human. Okay, two lessons: never take anything for granted, either. I wish someone had drilled this into me earlier in high school, because I feel like I've always had an "I'll have plenty of time to do that later" attitude. Well, it turns out that "later" is now and now means getting shit done so that I can live the life I want. It's not impossible, certainly, it can just feel that way sometimes. I never want anyone to watch their life drift by while they waste time they could be using to do the things they love most. The best thing I've learned is that you need to make these opportunities happen for yourself, decide to get shit done for yourself, and just keep on pursuing and being active in what you enjoy most in life. For me, it's literature and art.
Writing as an art form is so near and dear to me. Writers see the world from so many different perspectives and they choose to share these perspectives with the world, they bare parts and pieces of their souls to strangers across nations and continents with the sole desire to share their creation and make people wonder, think, learn, or simply spike some curiosity. Writing to me is magic, a unique sort where no two people will ever interpret a piece in the same way, each person's life and experiences shaping how they read and perceive it. That's incredible, and if I can somehow have a hand in bringing these pieces, these works of art into someone else's hands, I know I'll be content. More than content, really, I'll be happy.
And that's what life's about, right?