By McKenzie Holmes
There is a senior year frenzy hotly rampant in today’s times, one that doesn’t just consist of college applications and national exams but decisions, decisions, decisions, around every corner. Organizations and entities swarm around us seniors (and even juniors, sophomores, and freshmen), seeking our one “yes.” Yesterday, the decision was, “College or not?” Today, it’s a question of, “If college, then which one, and when?” Soon, it’ll be, “Okay, now what?” There is a lot of pressure on rising young adults to make wise choices—but sometimes, wisdom is an ambiguous virtue.
For some, it’s an easy decision to make. They have one dream college (or a few), and the grades, talents, and determination to get there. For others—in fact, for most students across the nation—it’s much, much more complex. When I was a freshman, I was already well aware that I would be going somewhere within four short years; and there was a lingering nervousness as to which of the thousands of options I should go to. Even the best-match-for-you college resources didn’t help. The questions were about school size, location, on-campus extracurricular activities, and degree plans. I didn’t care about any of the first three, and the fourth I simply didn’t know.
I assumed I would just apply to the top Ivy Leagues, as most offer full scholarships and are well regarded. But even that prospect felt so empty; I didn’t want to go to an esteemed university just because it was/is an esteemed university. For me, it was like floating around in this ocean, searching for the one, perfect drop, with no real clues as to which drop that was.
I found my college a couple of months into my sophomore year, but that’s beside the point. From having no clue as to which colleges I wanted to apply to, to being certain of the one, I faced opposition and doubt. My college choice was a decision that was supernaturally providential but didn’t look like the most glimmering choice for a school. Peers and family friends would look quizzical when they asked what I was doing after high school, and I told them. It was a silent, “That’s it?” that swam around in the atmosphere, almost every time. The world tossed around the word “wisdom” and having wise choices, but frankly, I didn’t want something noble if it was empty.
It was only recently that I realized something: I would rather be looked at as stupid than make a safe-but-empty decision. I would rather be called insane than have regrets. The world defines wisdom as some prestigious doctrine that keeps us safe and prevents us from making huge mistakes. But in reality, wisdom isn’t always safe. Wisdom is thoughtfulness and courage, even if that means taking huge risks and looking out of your mind. Wisdom is being fearlessly kind, and searching out the untrodden paths, through brambles and bushes and thorns. Wisdom is both having a dream and the boldness to follow it. Wisdom is knowing that failure doesn’t define you; and that if you fail while pursuing your dreams, it’s the greatest of successes.