When I Close The Door Behind Me

Ally Russell, a Scripps Ranch High School senior, shares her thoughts about SRHS and life as a teen in Scripps Ranch. She titles her column “The Story So Far…” because she says she and her peers are just starting their lives.


When asked where you see yourself in 10 years, it’s easy to respond with noble and global declarations and specific destinations. I see myself scaling mountaintops in the Himalayas or working with young girls to expand their access to education. I see myself in a bustling work environment, maybe part of a nonprofit organization…and I’ll definitely be the boss. It isn’t hard to reach grand conclusions and visualize the destinations without any foresight regarding how to get there.

When faced with choosing a college to commit to for the next four years, the same is true. I see where I want to end up. I can clearly visualize the finish line, but choosing blindly which path will get me there is a daunting task.

The colleges I’m choosing from are not exactly what I envisioned for myself in the fall. I don’t doubt each one would offer me a different worthwhile experience. However, I’m struggling to see myself at any of them confidently. Being waitlisted at a few colleges to which I hoped to be accepted blindsided me, and I only have a short while to decide what to do instead.

My dad claims the key to success is one’s ability to roll with the punches and adjust to what life throws at you…which is easier said than done, making it a fitting prerequisite for success. Knowing this doesn’t make stomaching the fact that some colleges didn’t see the same potential you see in yourself any easier.

After the initial fear and apprehension of filling out applications, I hate to admit it, but I think I got a little cocky. I could see the same sentiment around school. When you’ve clearly outlined everything that makes you unique in an application, it’s easy to pump yourself up and believe your dream college will see the same potential for greatness that you see in yourself. When they don’t, it’s a completely crushing, humbling experience.

The other day, my close friend confided that she was struggling with a similar problem. She confessed that she was gutted when she wasn’t accepted to her first choices and although the colleges she has to choose from are great options, she was having a hard time finding one that was the right fit. Although I wish we could have bonded over getting full-ride scholarships to our dream colleges, in my misery I welcomed the company.

The more we talked, the more I realized that everyone who seemed so sure and confident at school was probably facing the same pressure. Some classmates who were accepted into prestigious colleges had to turn them down because they didn’t offer enough financial aid. Even if it wasn’t the exact situation I was in, I couldn’t believe I had assumed I was the only one feeling torn about this decision.

Although my first day of college seems a long way off, I feel like my college experience has already begun and the lessons are beginning to present themselves. Across campus, news revolves around who got in where, who was rejected, and who committed to which university. Oftentimes, the colleges you’ve been accepted to become synonymous with your intelligence and worth, especially in a competitive environment like Scripps Ranch.

When faced with my first rejection letter, I was tempted not to admit it. No one would really ever know. But when it came down to it and someone asked me, I told the truth. I had been rejected by three schools.

Although I can’t vouch for every senior, I feel like most people have been honest. It’s strange that this honesty is something that has brought us all, in a sense, closer.

After my conversation with my friend, I felt lighter and clearer about what the future might hold. This much I know. By the time you read this, I’ll have made my decision and posted on Facebook where I’ll spend the next four years with a funny caption about the school’s mascot or unflattering school colors. Everything else, so far, is to be determined.

In August when I walk out of the house I’ve called home for 18 years, the possibilities before me will be endless and getting into any particular college will seem less significant. When I close that door behind me, although I’ll be tempted to look back, I’ll know that my future now depends on my ability to turn my gaze forward and commit to the decision: just go.

Ally Russell, SRHS Senior