My best friend got into Stanford University. Like always, my heart reacted first – pounded hard against my ribcage, almost as hard as all the work she’s put in to get there. But not quite. For eight months, sleep was replaced with rewrites of college essays, fitting words into limits they resisted with a bitter smirk. SAT words drifted away with the chai tea smoke as she blinked her eyes behind pink-rimmed glasses, solving equation after equation until her life became one big formula. And she found ‘x’.
“There’s no chance,” she’d say to me, listing every reason she wasn’t good enough until my eyes refused to roll back any further. “Think about it, of all the applicants...” I guess I had enough belief for the both of us.
Because their campus wouldn’t be able to pride themselves on intelligence, passion or determination without having the most intelligent, passionate and determined person I know as part of their student body, her boots making imprints on the grass, the rays of California sunlight painting a layer of gold onto her cheeks.
And while she spent her midnights studying, mine were met with numb limbs at the thought of her being across an entire ocean. At the thought of high school becoming just another memory. I can already taste the saltwater tears on my lips, those that will trickle down as we throw our caps up and float away with them, leave it all behind. All of this, every bridge we’ve built, every brick we’ve layered with our own amateur cement. Every morning of under-eye circles the size and colour of plums, every worksheet we moaned about memorising. I’d do it again tomorrow, if I could. Every person we spent so much time hating, every friendship we didn’t know we needed, every laugh characterised by aching abs and pained throats. Can we start over?
This whole college thing – it’s a giant leap for a teen. A leap into the arms of foreign buildings and crowds of unfamiliar faces. A leap into a world with too many hopes and too few expectations, or maybe it’s too few hopes and too many expectations and maybe we just never thought it would be our time. Our time to think up senior quotes and decide which bed sheets to pack. Our time to taste independence, let the flavour linger on our tongues.
Be proud, Stanford. Because that leap she’s taking, it’s for you. You don’t know how lucky you are.