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Waiting for college decisions definitely ranks in the list of top most stressful life events. It’s a waiting game full of deception, ego hits and conversely ego boosts. It’s a demonstration of societal pressures, insecurity, and self value as defined by acceptance. There is a tremendous pressure to reveal acceptances on facebook through a post along the lines of “xyz Class of 2020! :)”. On the other hand, a silent Facebook profile implies rejection.

The main source of fear and trepidation is not revealing the information itself; it is the silent judgment that you and everyone else know is inevitable. An acceptance or rejection may not necessarily define what you are worth to yourself, but the same cannot be said of the rest of society glancing in. This fosters nothing less than a sense of helplessness, in which getting lost in the tide is the only natural way to surrender to, despite being crashed against jagged rocks.

There is no risk-free way of getting out of the tide, but its harsh waves can be postponed by simply keeping silent about all college decisions as a whole. The assumption that “bottling up emotions” is an inherently unhealthy thing is narrow sighted in its absolutism. Keeping silent about something important to oneself allows a period of introspection and consideration before unleashing it to public eye. It is unlikely that you will be able to conceal where you are going to college forever, but for the majority of your high school senior year, it is definitely possible.

And it creates a temporary pain-free, judgment free world, where you are free to consider your options without the stare of someone else glaring into your life decisions. It allows you to focus on other activities that you never had time to dabble in because of high school stress and college applications. This kind of breath of fresh air is priceless. Without the college decision tied to anyone else, you can take a step back and step out of the provincial world of high school you’ve been living in for the past four years.

Of course, hiding the colleges you’ve been accepted to and rejected from is a course of action rarely taken. The reason is quite logical: the cost of concealing the information outweighs the benefits. You have to endure peers and occasionally students bugging you for information about your life decisions, and then when you countlessly refuse, they begin to judge you as a stubborn, irrational, and unreasonable human.

True, holding in all of that information for the entirety of a high school senior year serves the sole purpose of being a protective bubble. But what wrong can truly be found in that? There is a fine line between refusing to face reality and making reasoned decisions while blocking out the white noise. This is not an idea pulled from Holden Caulfield’s head, but rather a conclusion based on a pragmatism.  

When you get your college decision near the end of March and beginning of April, know that the result is privy first and foremost to yourself. What you choose to do with that is completely up to you. If you receive an acceptance and cannot find it in yourself to bottle the joy within you, by all means post on Facebook if it so pleases. These kinds of occurrences tend to elicit positive type of judgment (which is often not even considered judgment). But most of the time the happiness overwhelms anything that society might cast upon you.

Rejections, however, make everything just a bit more susceptible and prone to outsider words. If you receive a rejection, you have no obligation to say so, just as you have no obligation to tell people where you applied to. The susceptibility is the very same that prompts college applicants to go online and find all of the brilliant applicants who were rejected from the same school, or posts about why the school is not “actually” that great. If it means a little less judgment (but not zero judgment, because even in silence, society judges) and a little more space to breathe and figure out this important decision for yourself, you’ll find that silence speaks volumes.

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the author

Lucy Zhang attends Duke University and is majoring in electrical and computer engineering. Her passions include watching anime, sleeping, and writing the occasional article or two when productivity levels are high enough.

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