2.24.2008

Introspection

So I didn't get this scholarship to BC I really wanted.

Fortunately or unfortunately, this has provided me an excellent opportunity for introspection, analyzing my reaction to the news. This rambles, by the way...

First of all, I'm not as depressed as I could have been, which is good. I guess I've just "focused on the positive" (as corny as it sounds) and tried to be happy for my friends who did get it (which I am). It hasn't worked completely, but it has helped. We all have so much to be grateful for in this country, it's a wonder we ever get depressed about anything.

Intellectually, I understood that my chances of getting the scholarship were approximately one in three (18-20 out of 57). But I don't think I really ever believed that. I considered the idea of rejection and mentally acknowledged its possibility, but I never really felt it. There are a few reasons for this, but the main one is what I'll call the Lottery Mentality.

Even when we understand the odds, we (tend to) ignore them or actually believe they do not apply to us. If you buy a lottery ticket, you spend a whole lot of time thinking about what will happen when you win, even though the chances of your winning are abysmal. In my mind, I knew the scholarship wasn't a given, but my heart/soul/psyche never accepted that fact. Even after my mom told me over the phone that I hadn't received it, I honestly considered that she might have been lying to me to surprise me. (She actually admitted that she might have done that if I had gotten it.) Like the famous line in A Few Good Men, I couldn't handle the truth.

The other reason is simple pride (I'm speaking in the Christian sense of the word), my natural (and completely despicable) tendency to perceive myself as better or more entitled than others. (I'm not saying that I consciously considered myself better than anyone else. I'm just saying it would be in my nature to do so.) Though I understand that everything I have can be blamed on good luck, good genes, and a good God (in other words, not anything of my own doing), I tend to feel that I deserve things which I really don't. And so I was disappointed in a way I shouldn't have been.

The other thing I noticed was that BC became much more appealing and my other options much less so as soon as I was rejected. "The grass is always greener on the other side." (This, in my mind, is mankind's great tragedy.) All of a sudden, amazing schools that most people could never dream of (most people, after all, will never receive a post-secondary education) became musty, colorless, and boring to me. BC, in contrast, was almost apotheosized (if a college can be deified) in my mind.

Whenever something like this happens to me, I suffer from what I'll call anterograde nostalgia - an intense and poignant combination of longing and regret, not for what was, but for what might have been. I really would have loved to spend four years in such a close-knit community, to go to France, to live in a house for six weeks over the summer, etc. It would have been awesome. But it's not going to happen, and life somehow goes on.

It's kind of crazy if you think about it, though. Who I will become and who my best friends will be is being largely determined by strangers and admissions people. I always get depressed when I think about all the friendships that could have been...

It's important that we put everything, good and bad, in perspective. It would be stupid to invest any more of my happiness in college and earthly things; if I do, I'm playing Russian roulette with my happiness, because nothing is certain. In the end, I believe my happiness and self-satisfaction have to stem from love for God and for other people, because everything else simply fades...

How should I have thought about this scholarship? I shouldn't have even thought, "I hope I get it." I really should have thought, "I hope it is given to the people who need or deserve it the most." And then I should have reminded myself constantly that I neither needed nor deserved it as much as some of the other people.

So there you have it.

2 comments:

Meaghan Cassin said...

Your points about odds and pride are dead on - I wish I had read this a lot sooner - I feel like I went through a lot of the same thought processes - though I doubt I could have elucidated them as eloquently. But do you feel now like you have ended up where you belong ? :)

Speaker for the Dead said...

Yeah, definitely. And Sigmier is here, too!