Heart racing, pits sweating, hands trembling, so much anticipation had been building up to this moment—I could barely open the email without misclicking. It wasn’t so much the school, but the bigger manifestation of early-decision acceptance that would alleviate my conscience and propel me into an eager phase of senioritis. I had a whole list of things I wanted to pursue if the decision went my way: boxing or martial arts, self-studying the basics of computer science, traveling into New York City every weekend to become a food connoisseur; the renaissance conscience seduced my cultural curiosities.
I opened the email and proceeded onto the portal to check my decision. I sat there paralyzed, as if a bullet laced with cyanide had torn through my gut and subconscious as I read, “Dear Warner, I’m sorry to inform you we cannot grant you admissions into Northwestern University for the Class of 2021.”
Messages poured into the group chat, in which one of my good friends had just been accepted into Northwestern: “Congrats Will! OMG WILL YOU’RE AMAZINGG.” With bitter ambivalence, it was hard to even look at the messages, let alone my phone which Facebook notifications lit up like fireflies on a summer evening. “Will Ban: Northwestern Class of 2021!!!!” Eventually, the attention turned to me: “Warner, you OK? It’s alright man. Bigger, better things to come.” I couldn’t help but congratulate my competing companion, feeling proud for what he had achieved in his high school career.
On the other hand, I knew I couldn’t dwell on this matter. The decision was made, rejection confirmed, “move on” was what I kept reciting to myself, yet I couldn’t fathom the gravity of what had just happened. Familiar sentiments from soccer started to flood in: tough practices, injuries, championship losses. But it wasn’t over. The more I sputtered murmurs of regrets, the more I laundered precious time—essential time in the college-process marathon. There was no use for self-loathing prophecies.
I got out of my chair and took a walk outside to turn on my Christmas lights. Staring at the holiday myriad, I progressed into deeper conversation with my conscience. I started to question whether my choice of soccer was valid. My time and money was siphoned by traveling for games and showcases, and my social life was deprived with the little time I had; but although soccer chewed up half my time in high school, it also ingrained priceless values of self-discipline, time management and collaboration. Yes, I traveled a lot, but the traveling also exposed me to different cultures and people outside of the competitive nature of New York. As optimism began to envelop my conscience, I also reflected on the blessings that granted me the opportunities to pursue higher levels of both soccer and education combined, which has provided me solace to my multifaceted identity. After a few moments of clarity, I could then see the colors of the lights, the concrete on the sidewalk, the road yet to be taken.
Alright, life goes on. I packed my water bottle and indoor shoes, and headed to practice, where I would go on to do “suicides” for an hour because of one teammate’s misdemeanors. That cold Wednesday night, the road not taken never seemed brighter.