In my first post after I returned from my hiatus, I mentioned I didn’t get the Boren which I was really, REALLY hoping to get.
I got the email on a Sunday afternoon and it kind of killed my soul for a minute or two. I immediately called my mother who was like, “Ah well. We’ll be fine,” which was a completely blase response. A very, very true and valid one but blase none the less. It kind of shocked me, to be honest.
We didn’t get $15,000 and she was fine with it?!!!
Granted, I had secured almost all the funds I needed to go on the entire six month trip by that point so I didn’t need the scholarship, per say but it would have given me a ton more wiggle room and spending money and travel money and would have left a good chunk of money in my bank account for when I returned from the trip.
But mom was right. We’d be fine.
So why was I so upset?
Quick answer: I wanted validation.
Long answer: There are few things I am very confident in myself about. I don’t mean that in a bad way. There is plenty I am good at or okay at or competent in but there is very few things that I know I have down–that I can claim without feeling a bit of doubt. Being a good student is one of those things. I work hard for my grades and work hard to engage in my classes. Yes, I slip up sometimes (Japanese this quarter was whack, yo) but more often than not that is a result of me tackling too much (full time student, part time job, 2 festivals, preparing a study abroad to Japan etc etc). But overall, I am a good student. I’ve got the GPA to back that statement up. All the scholarships I applied to were merit scholarships. I live a comfortable life so need-based scholarships were out.
Out of all the scholarships I applied to, the Boren was the most prestigious and competitive. I busted my ass working and reworking that application and I knew I was going up against tough competition. My Women in Asian History professor used to be on the judging panels and he told me upfront, “Most of the kids that win this are Yale and Princeton kids” or from equally impressive schools. I was coming from F-A-U-No-where and all I had to compete with was my GPA and my reputation as a good student. What more validation could one ask for than going toe-to-toe with those Ivy League kids and getting the scholarship?
In retrospect, I realize how ridiculous that is. No one can take away the fact that I am a good student and I’m still going to Japan. The scholarship isn’t even designed to award the most amazing student–its designed with the whole “working for the government and national security” angle and kids who are studying diplomacy or who are International business majors or who study international politics and what not are in a much better position to swing the “I would like to be a diplomat or foreign service officer” thing that I am even though I am genuinely interested in that career path.
So I didn’t get the Boren but that’s okay because I’m going to Japan. So there.