When I was once a high school senior drowning in college applications, every essay that I wrote left me more and anxious about whether I was going anywhere at all. I wanted to go to college, but how would I possibly represent everything about who I am as a person in 250 words? I couldn’t, so I picked and pruned at what would make me seem most interesting, most full-of-potential, most densely packed with everything that was me, but it never seemed quite enough. By the point I was halfway through trying to woo the places I wanted to go, I convinced myself I would miss most of my shots so that I wouldn’t be too disappointed when it came true.
“Shut the f*ck up bro, what are you even talking about?” my sister said to that.
MIT was my dream. Between the being able to make whatever you want and the absolute freedom of just being able to paint an institute wall, or research , or swing from a giant rope in the trees, I held it with such high regard, I lowered my expectations down to the very bottom.
“I’ll bet you twenty bucks I’m not getting in.”
“I’ll bet you twenty that you are.”
“You know what? I’m so confident I’m gonna get rejected, I’ll bet you my entire wallet and if I win, you’ll still only give me 20 dollars.”
“Those are the odds I think are against me.”
“How much you got in your wallet?”
“I’m not telling you.” For some reason, I didn’t want her to know how much I had earned from art commissions.
“Is it more than 20?”
“Tens of times more.”
“Oh yes, please, I’m gonna be so rich by the end of this.”
“Dude you’re literally going to lose.”
“You better not forget this bet!” she yelled, trotting back into her own room.
I set up the bet so that if I fell short, I’d get a consolation prize, and if I got in, I’d be so happy I wouldn’t care about my wallet.
When the decision day rolled around, I woke up at noon, 14 minutes before the letter would drop (I lived on the west coast), brushed my teeth, and sat back on my bed with Erinn, expecting a full day of writing other application essays.
I saw confetti stream down the center of the page.
“well, I guess you won that bet,” I grinned.
She screamed. Then I screamed. Then we were jumping around and screaming for a solid five minutes. I screamed because I was terrified and overjoyed for the future. My sister screamed because she was genuinely happy for me, and because she just won the rights to my entire wallet.
I called my mom to tell her the news, and she cried and drove all the way back home.
After showing my mom the letter and that this wasn’t just a fever dream, and things started to calm down, Erinn started staring at me intensely. She then wiggled her fingers at me, gesturing for me to hand the money over. Unfortunately, mom knew of the bet, so I passed over the cold pack of leather and watched as she pulled out the bills and counted them one by one. While it hurt just a tinge to see all my hard earned money go, I was too happy to care, and I knew what I just paid my sister dwarfed in comparison to what would be my tuition for the next four years. Needless to say, she became a really rich man that day.
Moral of the story: Gambling is good.
Just kidding, for all the protofrosh out there, if you felt the same way I did, you can try this bet with a friend or a loved one. It adds a little fun to the process.