Need for Validation

Over the years I have accepted that I decided to earn my GED instead of finishing high school in the traditional setting. When I began at PCC it was partly so that I could try out college while being close to home for the sake of my recovery. The other part was that I assumed no college would really want me with a GED and so many gaps on my high school transcript. The plan was to go to PCC for a year or two to build up a good enough transcript to show them who I am as a student in recovery and how huge of a shift it is since my high school days. Even though I have done really well in college so far that in no way made me feel certain I would get into four-year schools on the first try.

A year or so ago I decided I really wanted to start at a four-year college in fall of 2017. I wanted to leave the nest and see how I’d do out on my own. So the past few months I have been working on college apps and I finally completed the last one this afternoon. I knew that doing volunteer work with NEDA would certainly look good to the admissions people. But aside from that, good grades, and a lot of history/awareness around mental illnesses I didn’t know how much I would actually stand out in the pile of applicants. I have completed enough credits at PCC to transfer into a four-year college as basically a sophomore. I knew my chances at acceptance would be even greater if I waited to complete my associate’s degree before transferring but that’s not what I wanted to do.

If the worst case scenario of getting rejected by all five schools I applied to did occur I would just stay at PCC longer, doesn’t sound like a big deal. In some respects, it wouldn’t have been, but I would have also felt like somewhat of a failure. I would’ve been reminded of the feelings that I’m not good enough. I would’ve thought everyone who told me I made the wrong decision by getting my GED was right. I would’ve truly seen if that decision ended up having a significant negative effect on my future educational goals.

It didn’t matter how many times my family and friends reassured me I would get into at least one school. In my head, I felt so strongly that maybe all of the hard work I have put in still wasn’t enough to overpower that GED versus diploma. I didn’t care how many people told me I was crazy for honestly thinking I would get rejected by all the schools. Part of me, a bigger part than I’m proud to admit was genuinely afraid that I would find out I still wasn’t enough. I was terrified of how I would potentially react to that situation. Would that awful feeling be what pushed me into a relapse? Was I really strong enough to handle that level of rejection? All of these questions have crossed my mind at least once a day the last several months.

But this morning, on March 1st of 2017 my own self-doubt was silenced. I checked my email like I do all the time and saw that I had something from the University of Montana. The subject was “Congrats.” I eagerly clicked on it and immediately started crying when I read, “Hi Emily, Congratulations! Your wait is over; you have been admitted to the University of Montana…” I couldn’t believe it. Partly because I submitted that application a matter of days ago so they were insanely prompt with their decision. But also because I, Emily Locke, was being told by a four-year college that they wanted me. I was good enough. I was wanted!! I continued crying for a solid half an hour while I felt like I was floating through the clouds. It was such a surreal moment – the day that I got my very first college acceptance letter. Thank you so much to the admissions staff over at the University of Montana. I certainly haven’t made a decision yet because I want to hear back from the other schools first. But the University of Montana was the first college to say they wanted me, and that means so much.

I continue time after time again to believe I’m lesser than and a lot of times I seem to be proved wrong. Perhaps I should try to silence that voice once and for all. Of course, having an inner critic is normal and certainly helpful as a writer. But when it gets to the point of me being genuinely terrified of my recovery all because of a college admission decision… that seems too intense. I am good enough, in a lot of ways. I work on believing that every single day but now that I have some genuine validation assuring that is, in fact, true, hopefully, it’ll sink in a little deeper.


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