I tore open the envelope that said Cornell University with an eager mind - wanting to know what laid inside. It was the letter that would ultimately tell me whether or not I got accepted into Cornell’s premier engineering school.
As I slowly read the letter in my head word-for-word, a quiet elation filled up within me. I had gotten in. To Cornell University! An Ivy League institution!
This was what I was working towards throughout all my years of studying. In high school. In junior high. All those weekend courses preparing for the SAT. All those extracurricular activities I signed up for.
All the weeknights doing homework and studying for tests in order to get a good grade. All those trials and tribulations culminated up to that moment - when I learned that I had finally gotten into Cornell.
I had made it in life. It was all a cakewalk from there. I had done it. And now all I will find is eternal happiness and gratitude.
Those first couple of months at Cornell were wonderful. I was checking out the entire campus in all its full glory with my new group of college friends. Everything seemed so blissful.
It was my first time getting away from my parents, and many people say that college should be the 4 most wonderful years of your life. It certainly seemed that way starting out.
I was on cloud nine during most nights. Sleeping easily. Making friends. Enjoying everything that came at me.
And then slowly, gradually, that feeling of having made it began to fade. I began to focus more on schoolwork. And I realized that the work at Cornell was significantly more difficult than the work that I had gotten back in Stuyvesant.
Even the introductory courses were kind of a hassle. I was learning derivatives and calculus without understanding the true meaning behind it all. What was the point of learning all this?
Was it simply to memorize everything, and then regurgitate it back out during the periodic tests? It didn’t hit me like a snowball or an avalanche.
Rather, that feeling of happiness dissipated in a slow and prolonged timespan. And before I realized it, I was struggling to stay afloat at Cornell. The schoolwork at the Engineering School was just too tough.
And I began to lose confidence in myself and slowly grew more confused with what was supposed to happen after graduation.
Don’t get me wrong, there were many happy memories that I accumulated at Cornell as well. The good food. The good friends. Playing basketball with people into the wee hours of the night. Playing video games. The parties and the acapella concerts. It was a memorable four years to say the least.
But, that feeling of having made it in life was nowhere to be found. Sometimes, I found myself trying to re-grasp that feeling. To find ways and strategies to earn it back. Maybe if I held my mentality or mindset a certain way, I can enter that feeling of blissfulness again.
And sometimes that feeling of bliss would come back, and then inevitably it would go back away. That feeling of having made it in life was tenuous at best.
And it didn’t feel like there was a sense of completion. It felt like I was back in the rat race. Of achieving goals for the sake of achieving more and never being satisfied.
Maybe, I thought, I will have made it if I get a good job offer upon graduation. Maybe only then will that feeling of “making it” return back to me. Maybe that would be the ultimate end goal.
So, I started working my way towards a new goal. But, the schoolwork at Cornell was significantly harder than I expected. Personally, I also slacked off and that probably didn’t help matters much.
Ultimately though, I did thankfully find a job after college, and it was okay. But, I wasn’t truly satisfied with my role nor with the company in general. And I thought to myself, maybe if I can find a better job, only then will my life be fulfilled.
So, I started looking around for another job, and ultimately was lucky enough to have gotten an analyst position at Marvel Entertainment of all places! This was my childhood dream.
Marvel was a company that I grew up on - with Spider-Man, X-Men, Fantastic Four, and the works!
Finally, all is well and I can firmly sleep easily and peacefully at night. Everything in life is the way it should be. I have truly made it.
Well, you can sense a pattern here, and the beat goes on and on and on. And I eventually discovered that working at Marvel did not lead to that blissful feeling of making it neither.
When exactly will we have made it in life? Is it the time we get into the college of our dreams? Get a job after graduating college? Working for one of our childhood favorite companies?
Why is this feeling so elusive? Should we even be chasing a feeling for that matter? Could it be that after all these years of striving and chasing, the feeling or thing that we were looking for was within us all along?
Could it be that we’ve already made it in life? And no external event can take that away from us? The next time, you are chasing a goal or a bigger accomplishment, know that the success or failure of that goal does not define who you truly are. You are bigger than that.
Whether we “make it” or don’t “make it” in life, that’s simply a perspective. You yourself are already whole and fine just the way you are.