Three years ago around this time, I was stressed about the SAT and the ACT, my future, where I would be going to college, what I would be majoring in, and what the status of my relationship may become when I would go off to college.
Three years ago, some of my friends would begin dating the person they imagined their futures with. Some of those relationships have lasted until today, some didn't - mine definitely didn't. But today, I'm dating someone that supports me and continues to love me from across the country. Three years seems like a long time, but it's also close to nothing when we think about how long our lives are.
I applied to five colleges three years ago and I'm thinking about applying to the same ones again for graduate programs. And I'm honestly terrified because I don't feel so great about my chances. I was afraid about getting into college, but now that I'm in college and I've seen who my competition for programs are, that's even more terrifying. Some programs that I've been looking into accept 12 out of 120 applicants. And that alone has been enough to make me think "Eh, I don't think grad school is for me."
I feel nowhere ready to even apply to grad programs but I just now began looking at what I need to apply to them. I had no idea I could be so close to graduation. I was just taking classes and checking off requirements one by one.
I feel as if I am behind when it comes to graduate program requirements but I had to take a step back and realize that it's okay. Those of us that are in college, we put so much pressure on ourselves to graduate within a certain amount of time. We compare our progress and our successes to others our age, but we don't need to. I know that some of my friends are just in a naturally longer program than I am in and so they won't graduate for a few more years.
Some people take breaks between starting college and before going back to school but some people take a long period in between going at all after high school. Some people don't even go to college and that's completely alright, too.
The age at which we do something can be a feat in and of itself, but when we compare our successes to that of someone else, we can get down on ourselves.
Some of my peers are parents and I know that I am no way prepared to be a parent yet, but they are. Some people are working every day when I've never had longer than an 8-hour shift. Some of my peers have traveled way more than I have been able to and it's a beautiful thing.
If I have to take a break to get some real-world experience in between graduating with my Bachelor's degree and going to school for a grad program in the future, I will still have my own successes and I will be proud of myself. If I go to graduate school immediately after graduating, I could graduate with my master's degree before my boyfriend even finishes his bachelor's, but we will still celebrate each others' successes and our progress. He has built websites by himself and is an entrepreneur and all the while I've just been a student.
If we frame our progress in a certain light, we can either be proud of ourselves or compare what we've done at a certain age to someone else's at the same age.
I recently read something that said to stop thinking that an ex-friend or someone who has possibly wronged you in the past is not an antagonist in your life, they are simply the protagonist of their own story and we all are just trying to live our own lives.
We deserve to give ourselves more credit than we do because being alive for some people at this age is something they never imagined would be possible.