Always Look at the Bigger Picture

by Lauren Whelan

“Life is all about balance,” a saying taught to us ever since we were children for the sole purpose of encouraging us to have a well-rounded life and to “not sweat the small stuff.” For me as a senior in high school, this saying had managed to place an excess layer of pressure on me during my past three years. As a freshman, saying that life is all about balance essentially told me that I had to become the most involved in everything that I possibly could to satisfy myself, my parents, and college admissions offices. I ran myself ragged with sports, part-time jobs, clubs, community service, multiple leadership positions, as well as maintained high honor roll academically. As far as anyone was concerned, my life was definitely balanced, as I had spent the past three years trying to become as well-rounded as possible. I was convinced that I was “doing it all” and that I had surely set myself up to get into the best college that I possibly could have. However, as soon as I began the long and strenuous college search and application process, I found myself standing at a crossroad between my reach, target, and safety schools. I fell in love with my safety school, as the classes and community were everything I was looking for, and this had posed a huge problem for me. I felt as though everything that I had worked for over the past three years and all of the time and energy that went into balancing my life had all been for nothing. My top choice as of now is a school that I could have easily gotten into if my GPA was .4 points lower and if I had only half of the extracurricular activities that I had worked so hard to complete. This left me feeling extremely frustrated and discouraged, as I asked myself, “why have I put in all of this work?”. Over time, I began to forget about all of the frustration I had felt about the “wasted” hours I had spent doing homework, studying for tests, and writing research papers. Instead, I began to focus on how excited I was that I had found a school that I loved. All that I had to work on was simply shifting my mindset, and I realized that just because the school that was the right fit for me is not highly competitive or impressive does not mean it does not have an excess to offer me. In addition, the skills that I have developed studying and writing and my ability to focus on assignments, multitask, and manage my time are all important tools that I will use for the rest of my life. I learned that the right college for you is not the most prestigious one; it’s whichever college is the right fit for you. Rather than stressing about the other schools I could have gotten into, I realized that I wouldn’t have wanted to go to those schools, as they were not the right fit for me as a person and student. Everything had truly worked out, and even though I have not made my final commitment to any college, I could not be any happier that I found a college that was right for me, and all that I had to do was look at the bigger picture.

Seeing the Big Picture in Life