If you want something, go for it!
I’ve done all sorts of things that I didn’t think were possible before. I’m currently attending MIT. I am going to an out of state college with a big sticker price as a kid from foster care and no money saved for college. When I was in highschool, I was advised to stick to local universities, not to waste my time or money applying to out of state schools, much less Ivies. When I talked about wanting to go to MIT after doing MITES, my college advisor brought out the stats for how often students from my high school got into MIT. It wasn’t often. But I wanted to try. So I got the vouchers to apply, wrote my application and sent it in. If I hadn’t applied, I wouldn’t have gotten in. The first step is always opening your mind to the possibility of something. If you don’t think it’s possible, you won’t aim for it.
Often you can be happy with what’s easily in your grasp. There’s value in knowing how to be content with what you have. There’s nothing wrong with going to a cheaper in state school; I applied to UVA and surely would’ve been happy there. Some of the worries I have in Boston, I wouldn’t have there. I sometimes regret that I can’t visit friends and family in VA more often. But I needed to apply to more than just what was comfortable! I wanted to see if could try something new and exciting.
Be Aware: You’re not always going to get what you want just by asking. I didn’t get into Yale. I’ve been turned down for apartments because I’m an undergrad. Professors have ignored my emails. The world doesn’t magically respond to positive thinking. But I learned something from each of those attempts. There are some great articles about how women are worried about rejection and perception so they don’t ask for these ‘unreasonable’ things. By only going for the surefire thing, you miss out on opportunities.
The biggest opportunity you miss out on is the learning that comes with reaching to far. When I was learning to swim over the summer, my teacher was really frustrated with me because I would tense up and refuse to go into water that was deeper than my height. She’d scold me, “How are you ever going to learn to swim if you cramp up like that? Doesn’t it get tiresome being that tense?” as I would tightly cling to her wrist or a kick board. Eventually, I had to leap head first into the water, kicking to swim a lap. The first time I tried, I belly flopped, freezing on impact and sinking to the bottom. But by the end of the summer, I was able to swim from one side of the (very small) pool to the other.
I just made a call asking for a job. It was scary. After I put the phone down, I let out a big woosh of air and untensed my body. But I’ve done the cold phone call before and each time it gets a little bit easier. Each time you reach, you can see a little farther out and your arms get a little stronger. So reach that first chance you get!