On the Future, Flowers and Fate

On the Future, Flowers and Fate

Floods of college-related emails, fliers, pamphlets, brochures, and even college-endorsing leprechauns have entered my inbox and mailbox over this year. All of them (even the leprechauns?) have enticing photos and glossy images of students leaning over bubbling test tubes, while eager professors hover over their shoulders, smiling as though piping sulfuric acid isn’t smothering their faces. Each brochure features statistics such as, “Number three city for student life, or best paninis in America, or school with most money-making students post graduation.”

Although I am in the end of my junior year, and haven’t started to apply for college, these brochures have given me great anxiety. Each polished pamphlet features students lounging on beautiful, green, quads and holding briefcases and drinking coffee and thrusting their hands up in a, “Lord Jesus I’ve made it” pose on tops of foreign mountains, or pouring over dense textbooks while smiling– always, always smiling. These brochures make my stomach twist because they all look the same: how am I supposed to know  which colleges I would actually be interested in versus which ones just look cool because of their polished emails/brochures/leprechaun newspaper delivery services?

Up until a few days ago I’ve had the mindset that out of the trillions of great colleges in the U.S. there is the one for me. This idea that there is the one college out there for me has made me sort-of stand-offish in my search for potential colleges because I’ve been so overwhelmed and so full of doubt: “How will I know which college is the one out of all of the glossy brochures? Where do I begin searching? What if I accidentally end up at a college solely for tortellini enthusiasts?” BUT, there is good news.

At dinner recently I was talking to my best friend’s mother, and I was discussing the recent national college fair that happened at the Austin Convention Center.  I was telling this family friend that the fair stressed me out because all of the hundreds of colleges represented looked cool, and I didn’t know how I was ever going to find the one, that one dream school that would actually make me feel like the person in the brochures in the, “Lord Jesus, I’ve made it” pose. After I described the stress that I experienced at the fair this family friend gave me some wisdom that made my stomach de-flop, my eyes uncross, and my hands stop sweating.  This wise, wise woman explained to me that there isn’t a the one college. Although this may seem obvious, this wise, wise woman told me that there are multitudes of options in the world, and regardless of where my life-path takes me (that’s right… DESTINY), I will succeed anywhere. Her point was that there are plenty of colleges where I would be happy, grow, and learn and that there is no such thing as the one.

She even connected this idea to relationships. She described that there is no such thing as the one person, or the only person in the whole-wide world that you could meet and fall in love with, and stay in love with forever. There are probably lots of people out of the seven billion in the world that you could fall in love with and be happy with, but you’ll find a person on your life-path, and that person will become the one because of how you met, and how you built your relationship, so that you can’t imagine yourself ever being with anyone else.

The last thing this wise, wise woman told me was, “Wherever you’re planted, you will bloom.” This concept takes the anxiety and nail biting and hair-tugging out of so many situations. There is no one right place, or person, or career-path, or pie-baking technique that is the one. Through your life, you will make decisions (i.e., where to go to college, who to marry, whether to ride a bike to work, etc.) and those people and places you choose will become your “the ones,” just by virtue of the fact that you built your life and had your experiences at those places and with those people.  Wherever life plants you, you will bloom.