Lean on me

Chronicle Staff

At the beginning of the year, I was considering two colleges as my first choice—both schools to which Harvard-Westlake sends numerous kids every year. One of my good friends had already decided to apply early to one of those schools. Even though we’re good friends, when I told him which two schools I was considering, he adamantly—and I mean adamantly—suggested that I apply early to the other school. It’s not that he hates me or would not want to spend the next four years with me (…I hope).

He was afraid that I would take his spot.

I have friends (plural, i.e. more than one. Actually…many) who refuse to tell anyone where they are applying early to college. They’re afraid to tell even their best friends.

Why are we pushing away our best support system, the only people who truly understand what exactly it is we’re going through? Yes, our deans and parents care, and yes, they’ve gone through the same horrifying process that is facing us, albeit 30 years ago. I don’t remember what it was like being a freshman. That was only three years ago.

Right now, our best possible allies are the people sitting in our classes, the people we hang out with in the quad, the people with whom we go to parties, movies, whatever.

These are the same people in whom we confide when we have a crush on someone or when we have a fight with our parents. Why has the big c-word become the forbidden fruit of day-to-day conversation?

I cannot count the number of times I’ve had a friend or acquaintance ask me, “Where are you applying early to college?” only to follow it up with a quick, “Ohmygod, I’m sorry, I don’t mean to pry,” before I’ve had a chance to even open my mouth.

Hi, it’s not exactly like you’re asking about the death of a loved one or my recent stint in rehab. There’s no reason to be so secretive about something that could—and should—be so innocuous.

I realize that Harvard-Westlake fosters competition among its students. I also hardly think President Thomas C. Hudnut is sitting in his office saying to himself, “Perfect, now they’re so competitive they can’t talk to each other. Things are going exactly to plan!” (evil cackle included).

After visiting schools two weeks ago, I had what can almost be described as a nervous breakdown trying to determine my future, but when most of my friends asked how the trip was, I responded with vague, noncommittal comments. The inner turmoil overtook me while driving home on Mulholland Drive after school last week, and I pulled over. I took out my phone and began going through my contacts, searching for someone—anyone—I could call. I pictured myself calling one of my Harvard-Westlake friends (the people I’ve been calling in distress for the past five years), but the thought made me nervous to the point of feeling nauseous.

Instead, I called a friend who lives across the country, someone I’ve known for approximately four months.

At the time, it seemed logical, even normal to me. But I do apologize to my friends. I should have known to have some faith in you, and you can have a little faith in me.