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Riley Griffin Headshot

The Cliff and the Abyss

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I walked up to the cliff. Dangled my feet above the abyss. I patiently waited. Sat. Worked. Distracted myself to avoid facing the possibilities and consequences of a future out of reach. There was anxiety, that's a given. But more so, there was the paralyzing surrender of control. That cliff stole autonomy out of my shaking hands; there, on the ledge of "What Is" my emotionally charged, self-evaluative consciousness was left to wait in the dust. From this uncertain side of paradise I scanned the horizon for "What Could Be." Then I waited some more, eyes closed, simply praying that solid ground would fill up the canyon whose contours graced my tiptoes.

This is how I imagine the entire class of 2014 felt after sending in the first, and most important of our college applications. We were a mass of apprehensive seniors, tormented by the sluggish hours that would eventually lead to early decision notifications. As November 1st approached, we willingly committed ourselves to the vulnerability that comes with judgment.

Wearing our hearts on our sleeves, we convinced ourselves of love for one place by arbitrary process of elimination. The love was innocent, honest, and whole-heartedly romanticized, yet unconsciously it morphed into something else. Out of love we created the abyss... a place where our self-worth was bestowed to invisible people who dangled us by threads over a black hole of ambiguity. With this came the risk of falling far and hard.

Now that the holiday season has brought along acceptances, deferrals or even rejections, I bid my classmates remember these things: It was out of your control. You did all you could. Or as Dumbledore said, "it does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live." Although I am humbled by the psychological validation from my own "acceptance," the truth of the matter is that this processes was a game of chance. I am thankful that the efforts of my last four years have resulted in something tangible; however, as I said going into senior year, "life is a scramble, a lot of this is luck. I just hope that who I am, who we are, is not lost in translation."

If there is one thing I have learned from coming out of the college process, it's that we mere mortals fear the unknown. Worse, the prolonging of uncertainty leaves us utterly insane. We are tortured, not by the love for the school or the extra work, but by the waiting. We can't control our fate, but can that really be the problem? No. The real issue at hand is this clichéd analogy of the cliff and the abyss. It's a limitation, a trap and a delusion that we all buy into -- a concept that dictates our "success" or "failure" in one escalated moment. We empower our own anticipation, and in turn, our anticipation eats us alive.

Ironically, we invested ourselves in E.D. because we crave safety and security; how utterly human of us to hope our future will sort itself out before we must muddle through options! Now, I have had my Wizard of Oz moment. I peeked behind the curtain, just to realize that the not knowing the future was part of the magic. It will always be part of the magic, because the unknown is what allows for possibilities.

I guess that was the lesson of the year. Whoever you are, high school senior, free-agent athlete or world explorer, find solstice in the countless opportunities that await. I don't have to be yogi or a philosopher to finally see that everything happens for a reason, and the best part of life is taking it day by day. If we live alongside our fear of the future, then the power to cross the abyss is in our hands. After all, we constructed it didn't we? It's ours for the taking.