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January 14, 2024

Can I Be Happy For My Friend When She Got Into My Dream College?

By Layla E.
, 17
, from Naperville, Illinois

It all began with a shared dream – both my friend Alex and I had set our sights on the same college. We have very similar interests and personalities, and this one school has always just felt right. It’s a competitive school, but not crazy competitive, and since we’re both top students at our school, everyone had been saying we’d both get in. We’d spent countless hours imagining the adventures we would have, the classes we would take, and the memories we would create in the next four years together.


The day the decisions came out was a mix of nerves and anticipation. But when I finally opened my decision, I was devastated to find I was rejected. It seemed like the dream I had held onto for so long was over in the second it took to click on my decision.


Before I even had a chance to process this, my friend was screaming on the phone—she got in, and assumed I had too. I felt happy for her and her well-deserved success, but I couldn’t help the pang of jealousy that came with it. It stung when I congratulated her.


I wanted to rid myself of that jealousy, so I pushed it down. I was trying to be happy for my friend, but actually, I was hiding from addressing my own feelings over the rejection.


My friend noticed I was distancing myself from her and asked how she could support me. At first, I didn’t want her support. I wanted space. She gave it to me, and I realized that it’s okay and normal to feel jealous of my friend’s success and excited for her at the same time. My jealousy doesn’t make me a bad friend, it’s just a part of being human. I’ve learned to take in and sit with everything I feel rather than ignoring things. And that led me back to her.


One thing I’ve learned from this experience is that while this college decision didn’t work out for me, it doesn’t define my worth or potential. I built up this idea that this one school was “the dream” and now I’m open to many other potential “dream” schools. I can be happy for my friend and recognize that there are many other schools I’m genuinely excited about.


I’ve even started to think that not getting accepted to the school I was so invested in might be the best thing to happen. It taught me how to use disappointment as an opportunity to imagine other, maybe better, places for me to spend the next four years. It has also brought my friend even closer, knowing I could be honest with her and also have her support me and get excited with me about other schools. The more honestly we’ve talked, the more I realize that maybe being at different schools will give us space to grow on our own, meet new friends, and get out of our comfort zones with each other, while always having each other to lean on from farther away.


I want people to realize that there isn’t just one right school, or one right situation, or one right person for you. In fact, the more open you are to many possibilities, you might discover that what’s “right” for you is different from what you originally thought.

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