22: Follow Your Heart

22: Follow Your Heart

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Teens Talk Getting In...To College

Follow Your Heart

The man who never alters his opinion is like standing water, and breeds reptiles of the mind.

~William Blake

These were the headlines at the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2004, my senior year of high school.

University of Colorado Named Top Party School.
Sixth Rape Allegation Surfaces at CU.
Rape Scandal Rocks CU Football.

A New Yorker, I had never been to Colorado, but imagined it to be something like heaven. I imagined snow-covered mountains, sunny skies, ski resorts galore, and thousands of students waiting to be my friends. In my mind, it was the perfect (and only) college for me.

My parents, however, did not agree. They questioned my sanity —how did these headlines not bother or worry me? How could I be so set on a place like this? I had worked very hard all through high school, and graduated with an I.B. Diploma. Did I want to throw my studious ways aside and head to the number one party school in the nation? And on top of it all, why was I so insistent on traveling across the country to go to college?

I understood where my parents were coming from. No dad wants to think of his little girl across the country surrounded by a team of accused rapists. And no mom wants to imagine not being able to hop in the car and deliver homemade chicken soup to her sick child. Despite all of their best efforts to dissuade me, I was persistent. At the very least, I had to go visit this place that I envisioned to be so wonderful. I knew that once my mom saw all the beauty that was Boulder, she would support my decision.

Needless to say, my parents refused to accompany me. I attempted to bribe my dad with snow conditions and ski resorts. I begged my mom to come see the city that could potentially be my future home. Neither one budged. If they were going to play hardball, so was I.

I booked a plane ticket for a long weekend in Colorado, and planned to stay with a friend from high school. It was at that moment that my parents began to understand the depth of my determination. My hope to attend CU was not a passing phase that I would soon get over, but it was a feeling deep inside that would not subside. My parents agreed to pay for my plane ticket, but still would not join me on my trip.

From the moment I arrived in Colorado, all of my wildest dreams were confirmed. It was even more beautiful than I had imagined, and the people were even friendlier than I thought possible. CU was everything I had hoped it would be. I could not put my finger on just one reason why, but I felt at home at CU. I knew that it was where I belonged. As I followed behind fifteen other students, each accompanied by a parent, on the campus tour, I knew that I would attend CU in the fall. I had to.

When I returned home, I could feel my parents softening with each passing day. Even as I was accepted to other colleges, several with more prestigious reputations than CU, nothing changed my mind. And slowly, my parents began to understand. They understood that deep inside I knew that CU would fill me with a happiness I wouldn’t find anywhere else. And in the end, all parents want their children to be happy.

On August 17, 2004, I arrived at the Stearns West Dormitory in Boulder. As I entered my tiny dorm room, I felt truly happy. I was in the place where I belonged.

Four years later, I am a proud graduate of the University of Colorado at Boulder. And not once during those four years did I ever question my decision to attend CU. I followed my heart, and attended the school that I knew was best for me. And in the end, it was incredible, both socially and academically. On graduation day, I stood proudly with my class and looked out into the eyes of my parents. The pride and happiness in their eyes made all of our past battles disappear. They finally understood that I had followed my heart to the place where I knew that I would flourish and be truly happy.

~Kate Lynn Mishara

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