The very fact that I've made it this far and been successful for the most part is quite distinctly a testament to my luck more than anything, no matter how much other people might suggest. I know that things have broken my way more than a normal number of times and for that I've been thankful. I know I've been lucky and living a life like in the movies, ideal and surreal. Of course, things had to come crashing down some time or another, and I suppose now, at the major crossroads of my life, is a better time than any.
Not getting into UCLA, my top choice for graduate school, as well as not getting interviews at most of the other programs I've been interested in is certainly a reason to pause. Up until know I seemed to get everything I had wanted, from big to small, major to minor. Granted my life has also had its fair share of bumps and jolts along the way, but for the most part life has been smooth and steady. It is only now, when figuring out the next (and quite possibly only) portion of my life, that I have been so horribly denied. And all signs point to further denial along my life path. Acceptance rates to graduate school in clinical psychology has always been stacked against me, numbering in the low single digits overall, from 3-5%. Getting an interview is an accomplishment by itself, meaning you've made it to the 10% mark of interest and people want to investigate further. But from there it's very much a lonely battle against the odds, praying luck is on your side in this next momentous part of life. Being accepted to graduate school for me means being able to continue the path I've forged through undergrad, continuing the pursuit of a Ph.D. in clinical psychology to some day down the life do some significant research into depression. But with doors rapidly closing in front of me and leaving me no future in that direction, I may have to put my life on hold for a couple years to reinforce my resume and bide my time until it's appropriate to apply for graduate school again, against likely higher and tougher competition. I suppose it's some testament to my luck and skill that I was able to obtain three interviews at all, two to quality California schools, but it's also a sign that I was denied even a chance at interviewing at numerous other, more minor, institutions.
So what now? What does this mean?
It means I've got to stop what I've always wanted to do, since the middle of high school, and try to find a way back on track. Without graduate school I cannot proceed as planned and I must forge ahead in another direction, hoping to redirect myself back onto the yellow brick road in the future. It means suspending any hope of making an early dent in research and getting a rapid start into things.
It also means that my dreams might just be that, a dream. That I, despite my levels of luck and intellect, aren't cut out for graduate school and doing research. That I might not, in the end, be able to accomplish anything significant with my life. To me, it is a wisp of potential, the potential that I am restricted to a life of falling just short of my life goal, that I will never be able to accomplish what I sought out to do a long time ago. To me, that is the ultimate in hopelessness, that I won't be able to make it even if I really want to, even if in the end that's all I truly seek in this world, to make an impact on it with the novel and sharp research I conduct. It might not be possible for me to do anything. So then what?
Do I continue what my heart truly seeks, to try and follow this path down research towards an ideal world of professorship and meaningful work, or do I abandon it and accept what in my own mind and standards and only applying to me, a world of mediocrity? Can I accept that I won't be able to follow my dreams and relinquish my grip on this goal, and just settle for something smaller, or perhaps something more superficial? Should I have become a teacher instead? I know in the end I wouldn't ever be satisfied because I feel that my intelligence wouldn't be fully challenged and utilized, that in the end I wouldn't be using every ounce of potential in my body for some greater good, and that I was holding myself back. But if I don't hold myself back, then I might just end up flying over the edge and missing completely what was likely never there. How am I to proceed in this sort of world of uncertainty? As the days continue on, I feel like I am losing more and more of my luck, that wonderous luck that has carried me so far and through so much. I am very tough and resilient, to an extent perhaps no one will ever truly understand, but it isn't only my tenacity that has gotten me through things. Without that added edge of lady luck, I may begin a downward spiral, towards a world where I am a shell of what I used to be, a hollow visage of what potential I used to contain.
What is to be done in this world then? It seems like every article I've read of late on success has trumpeted the merits of perseverance in the face of adversity, and to me that might be one sign that I just need to forge ahead through all these troubled times, difficulty that no one but myself has fully experienced (at least in this situation and style) and that I hope no one will ever have to. But part of me always wonders…am I just ignoring what might be the fundamental truth of the universe, and specifically my place in it, that I cannot do what I aim to? Or is my mind just playing tricks with me as usual, infusing my iron determination with the rust of doubt, eroding my strength insidiously? Perhaps there is no answer. And life is what we make of it.
But to know that there might be hope for me down the road, that I may just be able to fulfill my dreams and do something right for people is something that I, and everyone else on the face on this earth needs, that faint glimmer of hope that your life will be fulfilling and meaningful, and you will be able to touch, even if only briefly, what you dream of in the deepest of sleeps, where there are no inhibitions, where the inner sanctums of your heart are unlocked and finally speak to you.