“This too shall pass” is a mantra that has run through my mind constantly since my sophomore year. I typically think of it several times a day. It serves as a reminder to be mindful of two things: to treasure the good moments and get over the bad moments, because they are just that—little snippets of time that are fleeting.
However, on March 28, with only 59 days until graduation, I completely lost sight of this. Three days earlier, I had been admitted to the school of my dreams—the University of Southern California. When I received my acceptance package in the mail, I immediately broke down sobbing. I felt that all of my hard work had been validated, that the sacrifices I made had been worth it, that my consumption with the college process had finally been vindicated, and that my goal of attending a top, prestigious school had paid off, a goal I have had ever since I learned what college was. It was much more than just an acceptance for me, because everything became unquestionably all worth it when I received that red acceptance folder printed with the words, “Welcome to the Trojan Family.” I had never been as happy in my life, and for the next three days, I could not wipe a smile off of my face, thinking only of my next cardinal-and-gold colored years. My family and I were so excited to join the Trojan family together.
However, on March 28, my financial aid information was released, and we learned that it would be impossible for me to attend the school of our dreams. To put it lightly, I was absolutely, phenomenally crushed. While I had felt just three days earlier that all of my hard work had been validated, that the sacrifices I made had been worth it, I was now overwhelmed with the opposite feeling, because to me, college was much more than the next stage of life or education: it represented all that I had put into Catalina for the past 14 years. To me, it represented my life up until this point. And then, my goal of years was yanked out from under me in one fell click of the refresh icon on my financial aid page.
Now, I am a generally happy person who finds joy in most things, but I fell into a period of wallowing in self-pity at this point that I did not come out of for a good while. My failure to truly reach my goal consumed almost every thought of mine, even if I didn’t outwardly, constantly show it after the first few days. I lost the joy in the little everyday things I had so appreciated and been mindful of before. Instead of celebrating the countdown to graduation and all of the hard work my class and I put in to get there, I dreaded it, because graduating from here meant that I would have to move on to a place I had no desire to go. While I was so fortunate to have been offered an excellent scholarship at a beautiful school, and while I knew that some people would have killed to be in my position, I was completely overcome by my sorrow and disappointment instead of reveling in the last times I would get to spend here at Catalina as a student.
Now, you may be a little confused, because you know that I am attending USC next year. I discovered on April 15 that my dream actually could be made possible, and I am indescribably grateful for this opportunity and that everything worked out in my favor. However, I still want to say what I planned to when I wholeheartedly believed it would be impossible for me to attend USC and that everything I had done up until this point had seemingly not paid off.
Catalina has offered me more than I can ever express, and it is hard for me to talk about because I love it so much. Despite the stress, late nights, and tough times, there is not a single thing I would change about my experience, even though after discovering I would not be able to attend USC, I wanted nothing more than to rewind the clock to get all of my time and effort back. But I now know that everything I did was worth it, not because of whatever college I will end up at next year, but because it is here that I have created a family made up of peers, faculty members, and teachers—people I can rely on in good times and bad, people who have shaped me, supported me, and people who I truly hope to have in my life until my last days. It is here that I learned how to spell my name and do my multiplication tables, here that I learned a little bit of statistics and biology, here that I learned how to formulate a strong argument, how to speak in public and be a leader, how to do well and do good, and that Catalina girls truly can. Catalina is my home, and without my hard work and many wonderful experiences here, I would not be who I am today or have created the friendships, bonds, and memories that are now so dear to me.
So, especially after experiencing the little bump in my road of almost not getting to attend my first-choice college, I always, always try to keep in mind, more than ever, “This too shall pass.” I hope that you can keep that in your own mind as you move forward. At your lowest point, know that that moment is fleeting. And at your highest, know to treasure that moment, because you will never have it again. Don’t dwell on the bad. Embrace the good. Treasure every single moment you have left here with love, with gratitude, and with care, because it will be over before you know it, and I promise you: you will miss it, and it will all have been worth it.