Dreaming and Beyond

As a young adult, I am encouraged to have ambitions and chase my dreams. However, as my college years come to an end, I have begun thinking beyond my dreams. My identity cannot rely solely on end goals, life is a process and I want to enjoy the journey part too. I think this kind of self-questioning is important for self-care. According to many adults I have seen and watched in shows, life is going to be hard and many stumbling blocks will come up. As a hard-worker, I refuse to be defeated by or defined by the no’s I receive.

One important thing to recognize is that it is okay to feel sad about failing at something. We are all human, so we cannot detach from emotions completely. Go feel sad for a little while; have a good cry and drink tea. Then you need to pull yourself together and think about the good things in your life: maybe it is friends, an awesome mentor, your pet, clothes, or food. All of these good things are reasons to go on with your day. Once you feel better for a few days you are prepared to try something outgoing again.

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Another critical thing to do is to recognize the little things that make up you. If you know who you are, you can take care of yourself or make yourself a better person. No matter what happens when you put yourself outside of your comfort zone, you are an individual person with interests, likes, and opinions. Every week you can do something that makes you feel happy. These moments of happiness can sustain you through dark moments of rejection. Plus, when you feel sad you can go do something that makes you feel better to make it through another day. Or, even better, find someone who cares about you and do something you enjoy together. This person can support you, just as you would support them in a hard time and that will make your bonds stronger.

Right now, I am applying to graduate school. It is a bold choice, but I have known I wanted to chase higher education since I was little. The academic choices I made were to further that goal. I did two internships, I got mostly A’s in high school and college, I took the GRE. I entered the Undergraduate Research Conference at Davis last year. Now I have reached the stage where I can reach out to professors. I was nervous, but my mentors helped me through finding potential professors, writing the email, and checking my CV. Over the summer and most of this quarter I have labored over this list of professors and sent emails, and the results were disappointing. I emailed over 40 different professors and most never responded. The few who have said that I was a strong candidate, but I need more experience or that they have no funding.

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For weeks I felt waves of hope as I send out emails only to be crushed by no’s.  I have placed so much hope into getting into grad school that I did not know what to do. With the help of my friends I realized that my goal is not gone, simply shifted out a bit. I am eternally grateful that I have not spent hundreds of dollars on applying to schools that I will be rejected from. Instead, I am going to get more experience in internships and apply another time. Somedays I still feel very sad about the way it has turned out, but it is a learning experience. I have so many years to learn and try new things, so I must remain hopeful and reach out to pursue new opportunities.

And when I feel the most sad, I think about how happy I am cooking or riding horses. I hold the door open for other people and smile at passing people because it makes me happy. Each detail reminds me that I am not just a graduation certificate, I am fantastic person ready for anything. I hope that this helps remind others in sad places at school now or applying to college that failing is not the end of the story and it certainly does not define you. Instead it is a momentary block to accept, learn from and move past. Good luck to all you dreamers as you try again.