This past Monday morning, I received a letter in my mailbox informing me of my college counselor assignment and of the first introductory meeting to be held on Wednesday, January 11. The letter was a plain, cream colored, 8.5×11 sheet of paper that, for me, marked the beginning of an end.
As I read the letter, instead of exciting me for the prospect of embarking on a new journey like the rest of my friends, I felt a rush of emotions –fear, nostalgia, self-doubt. To me, life past Andover seemed like the unwritten part of a fairytale after the phrase, “and they lived happily ever after.” This mythical concept supposedly brings with it independence and the challenges of adulthood.
I couldn’t, or didn’t want, to believe that this once-upon-a-time, far away idea had finally showed up at my front door, forcing me to face a new reality. The time had come to start preparing for my departure from PA through the college admissions process.
Over the course of this next year, colleges will ask me to define myself in a short essay and expect me to express my personality through SAT scores, grades and lists of accomplishments. But how can I inform complete strangers who I am when I have just started finding out for myself?
I remember the day when, wide-eyed, hopeful and blissfully naive, I first stepped foot onto this beautiful campus in the second week of September, 2009. In the back of my mind, I knew that college was in the future, but everything in my life had gone swimmingly up to that point, so I was confident that I would be fully prepared, even joyous, to embrace the farewell when the time would come.
After a little over two years here at Andover, however, I’m not so sure anymore. I have faced failure time and time again, just as I have embraced success, the best kind of success that comes from a long, hard and repeated struggle. I have found my passion and talent for some areas, while in others, I have found my faith in myself shaken.
Since that September two years ago when I stood in a circle at matriculation, I have changed. Andover has completely shattered my once transparent view of myself. The hopes, goals and ideals of my 14 year-old self no longer hold true for me. I have been humbled, awed and inspired by the students and faculty here at Andover in every aspect from the classroom to late night chats in the dorm. Andover has opened my eyes to a whole new world by exposing me to so much talent, intellect and diversity and has forced me to reevaluate my priorities, perspectives and preferences.
For these reasons, I am tentative to start the college admissions process. I can’t even begin to imagine leaving a place that I feel still holds many undiscovered treasures for me. It’s hard to think of moving on when everything still feels unfinished. In fact, it feels like I’ve only just started to truly absorb and uncover the potential of Andover now that I’ve managed to tear down the barriers that held me back as a fourteen-year-old.
The question of “who am I?” once seemed simple. But now, after my time here at Andover, the answer has become more complicated. To whittle myself down to a few pages on an application seems daunting, and, as of right now, almost impossible. However, I still have two more years left at Andover. If there is anything of which I am certain, Andover, will prepare me to overcome the challenge ahead, just as it has time and time again.
Christiana Nguyen is a three-year Upper and an Associate Commentary Editor for The Phillipian.