The importance of self reflection

Since the beginning of freshman year, the big thing that has always been on my mind is college. Every class I registered for, activity I joined, and test I took would determine my fate for my future- or at least that’s what I thought up until this year.

Throughout high school, I have taken almost every AP class I could fit into my schedule and joined clubs based on what people said about college apps, except this year. Over the summer, as I listed my activities and reflected on my real passions, I realized that the only thing that matters is what’s important to me. Why waste time in a club that I don’t contribute to when I could become more involved with the things that I actually care about? With this fresh perspective, I was able to make more time for my favorite activities and take classes that interested me, such as Psychology, Chemistry, and Journalism.

As I fill out my college applications and write dozens of essays, I am forced to reflect upon the last four years of my life. I have unexpectedly discovered more about myself in the past few weeks than I would have ever imagined. Who knew college applications could actually be useful?

At first, my Personal Statement essay brought me a lot of stress and writing it was a chore. Every time I sat down in front of my computer, I would write a few sentences and delete them. The blank screen made me frustrated and left me wondering if I even had any true passions. After months of brainstorming, I finally landed upon a topic that inspired me. From then on, I excitedly wrote my story and was able to put my interests in writing.

Through answering supplemental essay questions, I realized that I did in fact have goals and while discovering more about myself, I was able to picture myself on a college campus. Shortly after applying to my first school, my family took a trip to visit Vanderbilt University. By pure coincidence, I met a student who went to Stevenson High School, just ten minutes away! She graciously offered to give me a tour of the campus and as we talked, I learned that we were incredibly similar. Beyond our shared interest in engineering, we also were super involved throughout high school and she related to my crazy AP-filled schedule and overloaded extracurriculars. Finally, I was able to see how all of that work can pay off. She told me about the amazing opportunities provided by the school and how glad she was that she took all of those AP classes.

That afternoon, I was left with a sense of relief and excitement for the future. I was motivated to continue to put effort into my classes and hold on to the things that are important to me. Although the situation of the pandemic right now makes it tempting to take shortcuts and stop trying, thinking about my goals for the future allows me to persevere through the obstacles and keep trying since I know it will all pay off.