There’s a relatively well-known psychological study in which children are given one marshmallow by an adult. Then the adult leaves the room, with the promise of giving another marshmallow when they come back – but only if the child hasn’t eaten the first one. It’s a test of instant gratification and patience.
In the flurry of emails going back and forth between my family as I attempt to keep everyone updated on my status of college admissions, my uncle made an astute comparison – he said, “It is finally the time you can eat the marshmallows. You’ll find a new one waiting for you when university starts next fall.”
I love this comparison. Over the past 4.5 years of my high school education, I have prepared for these moments of college admission decisions. I sacrificed hanging out with friends for homework and put in extra time on my activities. Of course, I didn’t do anything that I truly didn’t want to – I was passionate about my activities, for example, and though nobody loves homework, I was willing to do it because I had the long term goal in sight – college.
And now it is finally starting to pay off. Out of the various places that I was accepted to, I am looking at making a choice between Duke University, the Moreau Honors Program at Stonehill College, Tufts University, and Wellesley College – an incredible group. I am so excited and proud and confused… I have this feeling that it was all worth it. It can’t really be described in one word – ‘satisfied’? ‘Vindicated’? Or something as simple as ‘happy’?
Whatever it is, it feels good. Hard work pays off. The benefit may not be reaped immediately, you may face challenging obstacles along the way, but in the end hard work does not go unrewarded. I have taken this lesson to heart since I was young, likely influenced by ideals of the American Dream, but regardless of the source it has proven to be true time and time again. It’s just really strange to have everything coming to an end: I’m finished with the various requirements of IB – only final exams remain. No more applications – all I have to do is pick a college now. Graduation is quickly approaching – there’s no time to climb the leadership ladder any further in my activities.
All I’ve known for the past 4.5 years is a life that always has another deadline, another event, etc. Now, I finally have a chance to breathe – to finally enjoy the fruits of my labor. I just have to push myself to take a deep breath and smile.