Jonathan’s Journal: Rue in regret or remember your red


Credit: Theo Ghosh

In this installment of Jonathan’s Journal, as the college application process comes to an end, reporter Jonathan Zhang emphasizes the importance of finding a coping mechanism.

Jonathan Zhang

As of the end of January, most seniors are nearing the end of a long and arduous journey: the college application process. Many would think that what comes next should be a well-deserved second semester of relaxation and celebrations.

Spoiler, those people are wrong.

What often follows, aside from preparing for interviews and applying for scholarships, is a stressful waiting period for application decisions to come out and the highs and lows of acceptance and rejection.

As someone who has already gotten a few decisions back, good and bad, I can say that handling the emotions that come with impatience and denial can be tough.

As humans, we often struggle to put things in perspective and focus too much on the things that we can’t control, weighing our status quo as the end all be all. In other words, we can sometimes get so caught up with our current situation that we forget that there is so much more to life than what we’re currently going through.

It’s in times like these that I want to emphasize how important finding a coping mechanism is. It can be listening to music, exercising or watching TV. You should have something that helps you cope with whatever negative emotions that you’re probably going to experience during the college application process. Whatever it is, that thing should be something that helps you take a step back from whatever dark place that you’re in, and it should guide you to see the light that is the endless possibilities of the future.

For me, that thing is the color red. If my life were a movie, the film would start off black and white before shades of velvet red blossom in the background, bringing forth the colors of my experiences.

In western society, red often bears a negative connotation, one that’s associated with violence and hostility. However, I never agreed with this westernized interpretation.

My red isn’t the angry red that a bull sees when it’s provoked. Instead, my red is a celebratory red that comes from my childhood memories.”

— Jonathan Zhang

My red isn’t the angry red that a bull sees when it’s provoked. Instead, my red is a celebratory red that comes from my childhood memories: candle-lit lanterns that seem to flicker between being paper and fire, thick envelopes filled with the benevolence of friends and family and jiǎn zhǐ (ornate paper-cut decorations) that give the atmosphere a warm comforting hue.

For many Chinese people, the color red is synonymous with luck, fortune, success and joy. For us, red isn’t just a color; it’s something to be shared and enjoyed. It’s my happiness.

During my lowest moments, it helps for me to remember the red memories I’ve had and acknowledge the more that will surely follow.

And so, I encourage you to find your red, your method of coping with negative emotions. I’m sure many have said this time and time again, but it’s true—your acceptance or rejection to a college does not define you. Moreover, it really doesn’t matter that much what college you go to in the grand scheme of things. It is what you do in college and how hard you work that matters far more.

Lastly, I would like you to remember, no matter where you are in the college application process that the college application process is, for many, a once-in-a-life-time opportunity. So… try to enjoy it.