Photo by Amy Liu

If I had not…

Link Crew Orientation. Club Info Day. Homecoming. While all my friends were finding out about these opportunities for the first time, it was nothing new to me. I already knew the details of these events by heart, and I was close to finishing my plan for what activities in which I would participate. 

Moving into high school, the  knowledge that my older brother passed down was one of my prized possessions. I prided myself in knowing what lay ahead of me before my friends; what they were surprised by, I already expected.

Under the impression that everything I did in high school needed to eventually be in my college applications, I continued with activities I had started in elementary school to show my commitment — dance, music and activities showing interest in medicine and biology, the career path I thought I decided on.

Some of the groups I wanted to join needed planning ahead. By the spring of eighth grade, I joined Chamber Orchestra and Valkyries. I had summer practices. My first experience of high school was way before the first day of school!

Clubs I joined in high school seemed to depend on carefully calculated choices. I chose clubs that were not too big nor too small to maximize my chances of getting an officer position early on. I sweated my way through leadership applications — every opportunity seemed so close within grasp yet so easy to lose and mess up my grand plan. Every goal I set for myself became an expectation, and positions I didn’t get felt like failure. 

For some activities, I don’t regret pre-planning — I would never trade my experiences in Chamber Orchestra or Valkyries for anything else. However, for others, after the initial euphoria of getting the position I wanted, a privilege slowly turned into a chore. I was an officer for so many clubs, and I had no time to join new ones I wanted. What would it have felt like if I had jumped into highschool without knowing anything, figuring out my path as I went along? Having an expectation is comforting, but the more I knew ahead of everyone else the more I craved surprise.

For everything I did accomplish, each activity made it into one line of my Common App statements. Who knows how much each activity ultimately mattered during college decisions? I know now that every position I applied for was not guaranteed, and I will never know if there were any other opportunities I would have taken if I had done things differently. 

In the fall I will be a freshman again. But this time as a college student, I’ll gladly be the one with no expectations or plans ahead of them.

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