Class of 2013: Choosing happiness


Rachel Beyda

yayA year ago, I read the senior columns of my fellow El Estoque colleagues. Many of them had the same message: They worked extremely hard, still didn’t get into their dream school, and wished they had spent their high school years happy instead of stressed. As I read those columns, I said to myself: No, that won’t be my story. I have straight A’s and killer extracurriculars. High school will be miserable, but it will be worth it. I work the hardest; I want this the most. I am different. But it turns out I’m not so different, and all of you who are reading this thinking you are might not be either.

When I read those 2012 senior columns, I had pneumonia for the fourth time in my junior year. Turns out studying until 4 a.m. wasn’t good for my immune system. I let Monta Vista destroy me. I went from being the fashion-loving girl who never had a hair out of place to being the girl who wore sweats every day because she didn’t want to waste a second of her valuable study time choosing an outfit.

On every birthday candle, every eyelash, and every 11:11, for as long as I can remember, I wished for the same thing. All I wanted was an acceptance letter from my dream school. It was the school my parents had attended, the school I was born at, the school whose sporting games I’d been going to since I was a baby. Everything I did, I did to reach that one goal. After years of obsessing and practically making myself sick, I was rejected by the college that the first 18 years of my life had revolved around.

I had pictured that moment so many times. I let my goal define me, and I didn’t think I’d know who I was without it. But after some tears, phone calls and retail therapy, life went on. And not only did life go on, life got better. In fact, this is the happiest I’ve been in years. Getting rejected from my dream school allowed me to start fresh and leave behind the negativity it had brought my life in the past. It gave me the opportunity to create my own path instead of continuing on the one that had been carefully laid out for me.

When it became time to pick from the colleges I was accepted to, I narrowed my choices down to two schools. One was prestigious but as academically competitive and stressful as MVHS. The other was perhaps slightly less prestigious, but known for sunshine and well-balanced, happy students. I ended up choosing the latter; I chose happiness.

I should have chosen happiness a long time ago. I should have chosen it a year ago when I was reading my peers’ senior columns. Don’t get me wrong — some people will get into their dream schools, and I definitely do not advocate giving up on your dreams. But if you are staying up until 4 a.m. every night, you probably chose the wrong dream — one that won’t make you happy. My brother did get accepted to my dream school, and he did so while maintaining a reasonable bedtime and physical and mental health. That dream was right for him, but it wasn’t right for me. So ask yourself: Is your current dream right for you? If not, maybe it’s time for a new one.

My new dream is happiness, and unlike my old dream, it is completely in my control.