The call came on Saturday, shortly after noon and completely unexpected. At first I thought it was my mother checking up on me as I was supposed to return to Ithaca that afternoon, but the number was unfamiliar. “Hello?” I answered warily. A man’s voice spoke, “I’m calling on behalf of the Yale department of chemistry…” I froze. “We’re going to recommend you for admission…” The man continued on about mailing official acceptance letters and visiting weekends, but my mind was still struggling to grasp his initial statements. I had just been accepted to the chemistry graduate program at Yale University… I got into a grad school! And a good one at that. I think that’s when I started to jump up and down. I guess for a second I had forgotten I was not alone. “Who is it?” my friend asked, bearing an inquisitive expression. I must have looked like a crazy person. My response was to smile back and silently mouth, “Oh. My. God.”*
I felt happiness, of course, but also an immense sense of relief. Just the one acceptance was enough. I could be happy even if it ended there are 1/10. All the hours in lab, the late nights studying, the hair-pulling, teeth-grinding stress had paid off. It could be said that the past 20 years of my life were preparing me for this moment. And I had made it, right? Access to the next major step of my journey.
I’ve always found it very difficult to write resumes and personal statements – to “sell myself.” I feel much more comfortable writing critical, slightly self-deprecating statements (ie. this blog) about myself than I am lauding myself with praise and exaggerating my accomplishments. But I guess I have to admit, I must look pretty damn good on paper. Student at Cornell University. Good enough grades. 2.5 years of research under successful PI’s. Even a sob story to complete my personal statement. But that’s only part of it.
Earlier today I had a conversation with my brother. He spoke about promises; you would never break a promise to a friend (at least not without suffering great guilt), so why would you break a promise to yourself? By applying to grad school, I had made a promise to myself. It was never something I had to do, but now that I’ve set myself up to fulfill that promise, I owe it to myself to go through with it, and to do the best I can – to live up to the version of me on paper.
*Honestly, there’s a small part of me that’s still expecting a second call. One for them to say how it was all a mistake and I actually got rejected. I even Googled the area code to make sure it came from New Haven and wasn’t someone pulling some sick prank. But it looks good so far :)