You’ll Be Okay

Poetry has, for a while, been one of my healthier coping mechanisms. Many an anxious spiral or panic attack have been, at least somewhat, calmed down by writing down some of my feelings in prose. The following poem was written shortly after my rejection from Princeton. Throughout high school, I had very high expectations of myself for college. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do in life, but I knew that I wanted to go to an Ivy League college. I had to prove to myself, somehow, that I was “smart enough,” or “good enough,” and somewhere down the line, I had convinced myself that the only way to do that was to get into an Ivy. I sacrificed doing things I enjoyed, taking the classes I wanted to take, participating in clubs I actually wanted to participate in, all in the name of “getting into college.” In the end, I didn’t get into a single Ivy League school on my list, and looking back, I think it was for the best. Now, I’m going to a school where I can actually pursue art, something I’ve wanted for a long time (while still keeping other options open). Yes, it’s a state school, but for my interests and my aspirations, it really is the best case scenario.

The following poem captures my feelings about that first Ivy League rejection. It also somehow manages to discuss both my anxiety, which had been diagnosed and was being treated on some level at the time, and my ADHD, which was not diagnosed until the following year, and which I hadn’t even thought to be a possibility at the time. 

Cotton candy

A little voice screams

Or talks

A little voice whispers

And isn’t heard

A little voice is trying to speak



Who’s there?


Ears are covered in wool



There’s somebody hurt

A little tiny bandaged wound

A boo-boo

You’ll be okay

You’ll be okay

Give the boo-boo a kiss

It’ll go away

You’ll be okay

Or not

A little voice is crying

A little voice whose tummy hurts

Just drink some soup

Lie in bed

Cover your feet

So the monster can’t get you

Go back to bed

It’s bedtime

The loud harsh sounds are fake

Crashing glass

Whining alarm

You’re a grown up now

How old is a grown up?

You’re too tall and too old

Pimples on your face

“What will you be when you grow up?”

No longer getting full ride to Oxford

Or Yale 

Or Harvard

No longer the youngest to publish a book

No longer destined for Broadway

No longer displayed in the Met

Never popular

Never known

You’ll be okay

Not smart enough

Not talented enough

Not pretty enough

Not nice enough

Not good enough

You’ll be okay

You’ll be okay

The cotton candy covered walls

In place of Ivy covered dorms

You weren’t smart enough


You weren’t determined enough


You weren’t proud enough


You weren’t strong enough


You pushed work off

You doodled

Hours in a glowing phone

Hours gazing into nothing

Hours wasted

Panic spent

Sleep lost

You’ll be okay.

Turns out I was right. I am okay. My fight to deal with my anxiety and ADHD is, of course, a work in progress, but I am progressing, and I am okay.

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Hannah Finkelshteyn
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