51: Acceptance

51: Acceptance

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


Everyone has inside of him a piece of good news. The good news is that you don’t know how great you can be!
How much you can love!
What you can accomplish!
And what your potential is!

~Anne Frank

Flip... flip... flip... nothing yet.

Getting the mail had become an art form for my seventeen-year-old hands. I would arrange the mail. First the junk mail, next the colored envelopes, and then the glorious white crisp envelopes. Those glorious envelopes held my future within their grasp. They would read “Congratulations” or “Thank You.”

Yes, it was college application season. The time when students were in a frenzy. Many, like me, were nervous wrecks. I felt like the school day would never end. Every second felt like an eternity. The pressure was piling up so high, I could hardly concentrate on my school work. When was the letter coming from Tennessee? Did I get my financial aid? If not, could I afford it? No, I didn’t make it in? Yes, I did! These questions circled my mind all through the school day while I crunched on my pencil with my back teeth.

“Does that pencil taste good?” Tracy laughed as she pretended to eat her eraser.

“Actually I don’t taste it anymore!” I smiled back at her.

“You’re still worried about your college stuff, huh?”

“It’s all I can think about. I’ve become obsessed. I don’t even go anywhere. I just wait!”

“You need to just relax. It’ll happen. You should come out with us this weekend!”

“I don’t know, maybe... but I have a hot date.”

“Who is he? I want details!”

“He’s tan, holds a flag, and he is about my height,” I said through a smile.

“Who? Wow, that’s pretty short!” she said, leaning in so I could give her a name.

“My mailbox” I whispered in her ear, half laughing.

“You really need to get out more! Seriously, come out with us this weekend.”

She looked at me with mixed emotion as she turned back to her class work. She didn’t understand. She had already been accepted to four top universities. It seemed she effortlessly got As. Her SAT scores were through the roof and she didn’t even have to study! Unlike me, she was struggling to pick a college from the many she was accepted to. I had some universities I had been accepted to, but the only one that mattered was the University of Tennessee. I don’t know if it was the orange T, the amazing women’s basketball team, or maybe because it sat exactly 2,142.15 miles away from my home. I was just obsessed with getting accepted. It took me about eleven days to finish my application. One day to fill it out, and ten days to make sure it was perfect. What was taking so long? Did I put the wrong address? Was a 4.1 grade point average not enough? It was my SAT scores. They must have been too low.

I was already setting myself up for disappointment. All the other acceptance letters had arrived. They all began “Congratulations...” Two letters telling me “Thank you...” also had arrived. Yes, I had seen the big “Thank you...but you have not been accepted” letters. They usually came in small, plain, morbid envelopes. They were short, not so sweet, and to the point. Those dreadful letters filled with back handed compliments and feelings of insufficiency. I hoped to never read another “Thank You” in my lifetime. The word now made my stomach cringe with anger.

Ring... Ring... Ring.... Yes, school was out! Only 20 minutes and I would be at my mailbox. Maybe the letter was already there waiting for my fingertips to rip it open. There was a traffic jam that day, so I arrived at my mailbox in exactly 33 minutes. I raced up to the copper handle and pulled the mailbox open.

Empty. Nothing!

How was this possible? Not even a scrap of junk mail or a past-due bill? I scrunched my eyes with disappointment. I slowly felt the hot tears staining my face. How long would it take? I slipped to the curb, pounding my fist on the warm cement. Why are they not responding? I’m not good enough for them. Questions on top of ideas flooded my brain. I was so confused, upset, and disillusioned. I slowly picked myself up from the ground, wiped my tears away, and began to walk toward my front door empty-handed. I knew my mom would be sitting at the table waiting to hear the news from me. She would be waiting for a thumbs-up. Sadly, she wouldn’t get it today. As I began to turn my key I heard whispering and the phone click. My mom met me at the door with a huge smile on her face. I looked in her eyes filled with mystery and excitement. She waved the brightly colored folder up and down as she smiled.

“You made it!” she screamed.

“I made what?” I looked at her puzzled as she jumped up and down.

“You are accepted to UT!” she screamed, scooping me up in a hug.

“Are you serious? Thank God!” I let out a sigh of relief and joined my mom in celebration. We celebrated at the door until our limbs were exhausted.

“Congratulations... Congratulations...” I read the paper over seventy times. It was in a beautifully decorated folder and came with a certificate of acceptance. This was the real deal. I was really accepted! I felt my body release all the built-up anxiety. I suddenly felt exhausted. My mom stared at me as I gathered my things. She smiled sweetly.

“Are you happy?” she asked, through her smile.

“I am. Now I feel like I am smart.”

“Baby Girl, you don’t need that paper to tell you are smart. You have always been my genius.”

I hugged my mother as tears escaped our eyes. I realized all this time I wasn’t obsessed with finding a college. I was obsessed with finding the feeling of “acceptance.” After all, if these universities wanted me, I had to be a little smart. As I hugged my mom that late afternoon, I finally felt the “acceptance” I had yearned for.

~Alexsys M. Echevarria

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