A year ago today I graduated from Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas with a liberal arts degree in International Studies (Communication) with minors in French and Geography.
I’ll be honest, A&M was never on my list of colleges. It was my safety school. I had been drooling over Northeastern schools for as long as I could remember. I wanted Ivy- I needed Ivy. Well, I didn’t get it. At the age of 17, I had to face rejection.
Instead I got a remarkably huge (and I mean huge) university. 50,000+ students (undergraduate), a mainly engineering and research based university, and a school full of strange traditions I knew nothing about. I never gave A&M a chance in high school. Until, one day I heard some friends raving about it. “Well, alright, guess I’ll apply just in case.” That “just in case” became my life and the greatest ending to a tragic denial letter from my top choice university. How was I supposed to know what exactly I was getting into at the age of 17?!
My rejection letter sucked- of course it did. Honestly, I cried the night I realized I had to commit to A&M. (How stupid I was!) Being denied acceptance into universities (because let’s get real, there was more than one) made me question every grade, extra-curricular, choice I had made in high school. It made me question the school I went to, the day I interviewed with an alumni, the essay I wrote (which was really lame, now that I think about it). I just questioned everything about myself. Even worse, I felt my peers question me. Everyone knew this was my goal and uptight Mary failed to make it happen. Yikes. That is so much pressure on any student.
Now, five years later, I am absolutely full of pride for the university that I attended. I become ecstatic when I meet another Aggie (as I did on today’s flight from El Paso to Houston) or when anyone responds with, “Texas A&M- now that’s a great university!”. Well, fuck yeah, it is. It’s a brilliant university. It’s full of brilliant individuals. It creates brilliant, enriching contributions to this world- especially its graduates and the work they do. The research, the service (military school, duh), a passionate community (and God knows we’re passionate about everything)- it easily wins you over if you allow it to. I allowed it to from the minute I moved into Kiest Hall (dorm 2) on the Quad with the Corps living right below me. (They ran out of dorms, oops). From yelling “Howdy!” to each other to sawing them off at graduation, with 100,000+ Aggies in Kyle Field every Saturday afternoon and a full campus every day in between, Aggieland is not like any other place I have ever been (and I have been to many different places).
“From the outside looking in, it’s hard to understand. from the inside looking out, it’s hard to explain.”
I cannot full explain A&M- every Aggie struggles with this. Four years made me into the person I am today. It gave me a family of world-loving, adventure-seeking, intelligent individuals that are committed to sawing them off and making the very best of this life every single day (shout-out to MSC FLI). There’s a reason maroon is my favorite color. There’s a reason I wear my shiny piece of gold every single day. There’s a reason I’m considering doing even more with my life than I already am (but I’m not spilling any secrets just yet) and it’s because A&M gave me, and is, a brilliant foundation.
Okay, okay, I’m definitely hyped up now. As badly as I want to jump in my car and head to Aggieland with the War Hymn on full blast, my point right now is, something brilliant happened because I got denied
once/ many times. The world can feel like it’s being an unnecessary bitch sometimes, but I guarantee you it will be so much more brilliant in the end (I’m just loving that word right now!) So go ahead and try anyway; do not let one/two/five/ten/fifty people tell you that you can’t, or that you aren’t smart/talented/passionate/right for what you want. It’s scary to put yourself out there, denial is a terrible frightening thing, but as Sam Montgomery in the Cinderella Story said (or Babe Ruth who apparently said it first), “Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.”
I’m proud of you always for trying anyway.
And yes, I suppose a small part of me will always wonder the whole, “What if..” What if they had accepted me? What kind of person would I be now? Where would I be now? How much more debt would I be in? As curious as those questions are, they aren’t important now. What is important is the now. Right now and always, I am happy things happened the way they did. Though Brown could have saved 17-year-old Mary the eventual heartbreak by not wait-listing me in the first place. Oh well.
Also shout out to my family, especially for my parents, for always supporting and loving me, even when I was crazy stressed out. And thanks for being Aggies at heart and for making it a family tradition to go to a football game every year. 🙂
Thanks & Gig ‘Em,
(After I accepted my fate in high school)
(Going to my first Aggie football game)
(Becoming an alumni of Texas A&M University)