Pink and blue sunset over a lake through the trees
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Sky and trees

Just in case you have by some remarkable chance been following People Places Pines and have not read the words "you'll be fine," here they are again. 

You will be fine. The world in which you are awaiting college decisions is not the same in which I did, nor that in which students a year behind you will. In my household, this year's college letters have snuck up on us, whereas last year they seemingly could not arrive soon enough, but your achievements have in no way been put on the back burner. 

In this time of staying in and watching the world through a window, the idea of moving away to college may seem preposterous. But it isn't. In fact, students of your year will almost certainly understand, better than the rest of us, the importance of connecting with others to reach greater goals. Which is pretty amazing.

You will also understand the significance of Disney+ making Frozen II available three months before intended. Silver linings everywhere, you guys. 

That said, with college decision letters on the horizon, I'd like to give you some of my own advice. Though it was collected a year ago, I generally believe advice has no expiration date, and hope my own is not rendered completely useless by current circumstances.  

Here's how I spent the week leading up to "decisions day:" Going to school. Doing my chores. Laughing with friends. Probably putting my chin in my hand and watching the lengthening sunset. 

Catharsis, baby! After so many hours spent studying for standardized tests, writing and revising (and rewriting and re-revising) essays, and preparing for and attending interviews, I had well and truly accepted that college decisions were out of my type-sore hands. Which, by the way, had grown to love the simplicity of preparing family dinners, click-clacking away on homework, and tipping upwards to feel rain sliding down my palm. 

Maybe this sounds awfully boring. But I promise that's how I felt. 

Until decisions day. 

I don't recall what I was wearing that day, but I do recall sweating through it. I was clammy and unsettled. All this even though I thought I was far past this particular level of will-they-won't-they which tempted me to pluck petals from a dandelion in circular fashion until the little plant revealed my academic fate. 

Yikes. Just know that when I say, "you'll be fine," I take into account the stress you may be feeling which connects us across space and time because that's a hallmark of this process. 

I definitely remember the emotional pendulum which marked the hours leading up to letter-opening. 

Part of me was incredulous at my own audacity—applying to Dartmouth as the holder of no varsity athletic position, winner of no national (let alone international) competition, and master of no Calculus material? Good one. 

On the other hand, I was a hard worker, I loved to learn, and I wanted to do good things in this world and applied to the schools which expected this of its students. In short, I was hopeful and ambitious and couldn't suppress the what if rosy-tinted glasses which colored my application process. 

You, the student reading this, are already so impressive. You're here reading this when you could be doing anything else with your spare time. 

Here are a few secrets from my college acceptance results that may bolster you: 

  1. That one Thursday last year when decisions were released at four o'clock p.m. ("Ivy Day") yielded the biggest proportion of "no's" from my college process. I got rejected from about five places that day. 

  2. The day after decisions were released, I went to school and watched The Office for the first time in a creaky kitchen chair next to a window that showed it was undeniably spring. Decisions weren't everything, guys. 

  3. Here I am, one year later, attempting to learn Taylor Swift's Love Story on the ukulele. Let me tell you, the excitement of decisions day is not an annual thing, so enjoy yourselves!

This an exciting time. Though there is a lot of fear and worry, there is also adventure and hope and lots and lots of human goodness. 

Pursuing higher education at a time like this isn't selfish. These letters present to you in tangible form what you represent to us: the importance of chasing your dreams. Of keeping on keeping on. Of one foot after the other and good things at the end. Your applying to college, regardless of the sentiment within each letter, contributed to a beautiful delayed gratification which seems to be coming at a time when we all need it. So thank you, truly. 

You, dear reader, will be amazing. I'm cheering for you!

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