Finding Somewhere Else to Belong


Senior year calls for some major decisions. I have to decide where to spend the next four years of my life. During the summer, I didn’t feel lost at all. But now, as I get closer and closer to receiving my admissions decisions, the reality of it all sinks in.

It’s not that I don’t know where I want to go or that I don’t know what I want to do.

I know exactly where I want to go, and that’s what scares me.

What scares me is knowing where I want to go, yet not knowing if I’ll get there.

What scares me is the fact that I can’t imagine myself anywhere else.

What scares me is how I feel like I’m home when I step onto campus. Like I already go there.  Like it’s exactly where I belong.

What scares me is the way I take pride in the school colors, and the way I walk the streets of the city so confidentially. Like I’m not actually scared at all.

What scares me is that I’ve built up all of these dreams, and now I have to make them reality with one single application. And aside from that application and all the things I’ve done up until this point, none of it is under my control.

So now I feel as though I have to find another place. Because no one ever promised me this place that I love. I can’t just expect to get exactly what I want because I want it, because I’ve spent all of this time visiting with every chance that I get, because I’ve spent all this time imagining my life there. I can’t just decide that this place is my place, even when it isn’t. Even when it may never be.

It’s a lonely feeling: feeling at home in a place that hasn’t welcomed you, and a place that possibly never will. There’s such a high potential for heartbreak. somewhere to belong 2

When I imagine my future, I imagine writing stories and walking through the streets and meeting all kinds of passionate people and seeing the world. I imagine volunteering and studying abroad and writing for the school newspaper and making new friends. I imagine all of these things that truly, although it may not always feel like it, are up to me.

I’ve built up all of these dreams that I can see so vividly. But if they end up not containing the same school colors or buildings, does that inevitably make them less of a reality? Does that automatically make me unable to accomplish them?

Whether it’s our dream college that has rejected us or our dream employer that hasn’t hired us, we don’t have to let rejection stop us from accomplishing all we’ve ever dreamed of.

It may be easy to think “well, if I would’ve done this, maybe…”

But instead of wasting our energy on regrets and focusing on all the things we haven’t done, we should focus on all the things we have accomplished and all the things we still can.

I love writing. I want to study communications. And even though I have envisioned myself doing these things at a certain school, I can still do them somewhere else. I love the activities I’ve chosen to participate in during high school. I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished and who I’ve become. A rejection shouldn’t change any of that. A rejection doesn’t make any of my passions or accomplishments less valid.

Whether you’re applying to college, applying for a job, or applying for a position in a club, you’ve done so many amazing things already. You should be proud of that. It’s a shame to let the best things we’ve ever had make us sad, just because they didn’t take us to exactly where we wanted to go.

Truthfully, it’s about you. It’s about what you do, regardless of where you are or where you come from.

I’m a passionate person who easily gets her heart set on things. I’ve spent all of high school fantasizing about specific buildings and specific courses. But at this point, I’ve accomplished what I can before colleges make their decisions. And in order to be happy, I have to accept the fact that some places may not love me as much as I love them. That doesn’t make me incapable of ever finding somewhere to belong. That doesn’t make me lost. It simply means that I have to build a home somewhere else.

I could sulk about the specifics, or I could accomplish something amazing in another place. It’s not about finding a specific place to belong, exactly. It’s about finding the things that make you feel like you belong, and surrounding yourself with those things.

It’s not about finding a home; it’s about establishing one.



Paige Sheffield

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