I hesitated. Prayer. I can’t say that. ... “I’ll pray about it,” I began, unsure what else to say, “And … Yeah, I’ll just pray about it.”
I entered the Zoom waiting room to see the words I had prepared my entire college career for: “Harvard Divinity School Interview.” Hail Marys were on repeat in my head while I sat there; I was nearing a complete Rosary by the time the interviewer popped on the screen. The last thing I saw was a text from my mom, “You’re going to kill it, Sweet Pea! Just be yourself.”
Just be yourself.
I had spent the past week prepping interview answers that were anything but myself. I was about to graduate from a university that is better known for its partying, fraternity/sorority life, and football than its scholastics. For some reason, God nudged me toward one of the top academic universities in the world, and I chose to trust Him. I prepared extremely intellectual answers for the most mundane of questions. I was sure nothing could stump me.
“Say you get into all your top schools — congratulations! What will your decision-making process look like?” the interviewer asked me.
I hesitated. Prayer. I can’t say that.
“I’ll pray about it,” I began, unsure what else to say, “And … Yeah, I’ll just pray about it.”
My scarlet cheeks gave away my humiliation. The interview ended several questions later, and I was sure that every shot I had of getting into Harvard ended with it.
As I relived the interview over and over in prayer, I eventually came to terms with it. I was glad that I was my true Catholic self. While preparing for the interview, I was so focused on becoming the girl I thought Harvard wanted me to be that I failed to be the girl God made me to be. My identity is rooted in being a daughter of the King — no amount of intellect can change that.
A month later, the long-awaited Harvard decision email arrived. I had already picked other top schools after accepting the fact that my Harvard dreams were over, so I opened the email with low expectations. “Congratulations,” the screen read as electronic confetti exploded — I couldn’t even read the rest before freaking out.
Lo and behold, I was left with the dilemma discussed in the interview: I got into all my top schools and had a big decision in front of me.
When I get asked now why I chose Harvard, the answer is simple: I took my own advice and I prayed about it. That’s all I could do — accept my identity as a daughter of the King and ask my Father for help.
This is part of the series called “The Human Being Fully Alive” found here.