A huge part of my job as an admissions consultant is to get my clients–who are 90% male–to get out of their heads and into their hearts, to be more vulnerable, and to be authentic when expressing themselves to admissions committees. My job is to get application readers not just to like, respect, and understand my clients but to fall in love with them. And while I make sure my clients never include information that is so personal as to be irrelevant or detrimental to their applications, I always encourage them to be willing to show who they really are in their essays and interviews.
Now it’s my turn.
Or “When Great News Becomes Terrifying News”…
When I got the news that I had been accepted to Harvard to get my MBA & MPA, I was elated. All of my hard work over the last six months had paid off! My fierce belief in my story, my demonstrated fit with the programs, and my clarity of vision hadn’t just all been in my head. The admissions committee had bought into my vision as well, and all my educational dreams were going to come true. They had even granted me a deferral so I could take advantage of a scholarship I had won to spend a year in Ghana. Everything seemed right in the world after I got my great news.
And then, a few months into my time in Ghana, I became absolutely terrified.
What if I wasn’t really ready for the Harvard classroom? What if my lack of full-time work experience rendered me mute in classes where my peers would have treasure troves of stories to draw upon and share? What if when it came to recruiting, no company would hire me because I had no full-time work experience? What if, what if, what if?!
I don’t know about you, but whenever I get tests done at the doctor, the time between when I get tested and when I get my results back, I begin to ponder the reality of my own mortality.
One day, I’m going to die, and I don’t know when that will be.
But what if I did know when I was going to die—and it was merely a year from now? What would I do? How would I spend my time?
My answer might surprise you—or not.
I turned 28 this past November, and it felt wonderful to finally leave 27 behind, and start a new year fresh. Though 27 is a bit late for a quarter-life crisis (that is, unless I am going to live to be 108), it was undeniably one of the worst years of my life, full of anguish, confusion, self-doubt, procrastination, excuse-making, and back-pedaling. It’s the closest thing I can recognize to a true quarter-life crisis, even if it did get pushed back a few years while I was in graduate school.
I remember it like it was yesterday… (maybe because it was just a few months ago)
One day last July, I turned to my then-boyfriend in tears and dramatically wailed, ‘This is me at my worst. What has happened to my life?!”
My boyfriend, arguably going through his own delayed quarter-life crisis, looked up from the rerun of The Daily Show on his Macbook, shrugged his shoulders in exasperation, and silently shook his head at me. My self-pity at the sorry state of my life included our rapidly deteriorating relationship, so understandably, he had no desire to help me unpack the reasons why my life was in such disarray. He was my serious boyfriend, we were discussing engagement rings, and here I was crying my eyes out on the edge of his bed about how miserable I was.
The unproductive haze of ennui that was my post-Harvard life only truly lifted when I decided once and for all to commit myself to a place, commit myself to a profession, and seriously commit myself to finding a compatible life partner.