Calling All Rejects (College Post #1)

“Hey,” it says, cradling my confidence, one whisper from taking it away. “You’re not good enough.”

It came to me again, seven hours ago, in a cafe ten minutes away from home. I opened my email to check the results of my last four college applications. Sitting in that tiny booth, with bread crumbs spilled across the seat, I discovered my academic destiny.

One acceptance, along with the three I had already received. Four total. Good.

Two wait-lists. Ouch.

One rejection. Burn.

Here's a secret: Columbia initially piqued my interest when my AP US History said you could find more gay guys in NYC than anywhere else in the world...

Here’s a secret: Columbia initially piqued my interest when my AP US History said I could find more gay guys in NYC than anywhere else in the world…

Rejection has ridden alongside me all my life. It’s infiltrated my family in the form of unmet expectations. It permeated amongst my peers, mostly in middle school, when my weird personality meant ostracization. It’s even pervaded my writing – my passion – and has made me think, even if for just one second, about never writing a single word again.

But let me tell you something I’ve learned in my four long years in high school. Rejection, the beast that tries to break down all of us, can only really say one word. No. That’s all rejection is. One word. Everything else – including the nagging thought that you’re not good enough and you never will be because this one college or this one person or this one employer said no – that’s all in your head. That’s all extra. That’s all rejection wants you to think, when in reality, it can only say a single syllable. No.

Rejection can’t control your actions. It can’t control the way you think if you don’t let it. When certain members of my family and some of my classmates rejected me for things outside of my control, I found friends who would accept me. When my writing was largely rejected freshmen year at a Writers’ Conference, I kept going. I kept writing and I got better. Even though I was miserable enough at the age of 14 to ask Lady Gaga, “really? will it really be okay if I just dance?” I didn’t give up.

It doesn’t matter how you do it, or whether it takes days or weeks; you can’t let rejection dictate your life, because there will always be more opportunities and more people to accept you for who you are. As cliche as this all may be, I know how hard it can be to keep your head above water when all you hear is no. But someone or something will say yes to you, as long as you don’t give into rejection. Whether it’s a prestigious college, a lover, a minimum-wage paying job, or some crazy reality television show like So You Think You Can Dance?, it’ll be worth it. It will lead to better things. Bigger things. Brighter things.

Just you wait.

My friends and I went out for dinner to celebrate all our college news... I wish I had a picture of the actual cheesecake we ate.

My friends and I went out for dinner to celebrate all our college acceptances… I wish I had a picture of the actual cheesecake we ate. (Image via halfhourmeals.com)

Woo for writing sentimental posts at 2 AM! Does anyone have any college news they’d like to share or stories of rejection (and hopefully overcoming it)? I always feel like I’m bragging when I talk about where I got accepted, but if anyone is curious, I got into the Honors programs at the University of Mary Washington, the University of Virginia, and the College of William and Mary. I also got my final acceptance today from the University of Pennsylvania – I feel like my grandmother will think I got poison ivy when I try to tell her about it.

Truth be told, I’m just glad that the college admissions season is over. All of those hours spent slaving over Calculus and fighting to resist reading unhealthy amounts of fiction turned out to be worth it. Even though there were ups and downs along the way, with a few rejections thrown in, I’ve made it. Despite the fact I’m done with college admissions for the time being, I will write more posts about it, now that the fear of an admissions officer stalking my blog is gone! Hope to hear from you all soon, and have a marvelous weekend.

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34 Comments

Filed under Personal

34 responses to “Calling All Rejects (College Post #1)

  1. Congratulations on your acceptances Thomas!! It’s pretty exciting :). Honestly don’t worry too much about the rejection letters. Those colleges are just missing out on an awesome person:). When I got my rejection letter from one university my mom didn’t even let me see it, she just chucked it into the garbage. But that’s just my family lol. I’m excited to see where you end up :). I’m sure it’ll be an great experience for you! Have a great long weekend!

    • Thank you! I agree, I’ve pretty much gotten past the rejections and I’m looking forward to the future now, whatever it may hold. I’ll most likely write a post about where I decide to attend, and I hope you’ve enjoyed your weekend! Thanks for reading and commenting.

  2. Congratulations on all of the positives.

    And THANK YOU. I wish I had read this statement when I was where you are now, or five years later, or ten years later. You said “Rejection, the beast that tries to break down all of us, can only really say one word. No. That’s all rejection is. One word. Everything else – including the nagging thought that you’re not good enough and you never will be because this one college or this one person or this one employer said no – that’s all in your head. That’s all extra. That’s all rejection wants you to think, when in reality, it can only say a single syllable. No.”

    And having read it today, it still helps and has made a huge impact on me.
    Thank you.

  3. A big congratulations on all your acceptances Thomas! And also, thank you. When you said that rejection is simply a no, I think a little light went off in me. Because it is true, it’s simply a no, nothing more, nothing less. I will try better to accept the rejections that will be thrown at me, because yeah, it’s simply a no!

    Thank you so much for this inspiring and thought-provoking post, and best of luck to you with whichever university you choose!

    -Grace 🙂

    • Yes, exactly! I’m glad that that little light went off – from what I know about you through your blog you seem ambitious and hard-working so perhaps you won’t have to deal with many rejections throughout your high school career, but it never hurts to anticipate them. Thanks for the support, and for reading and commenting as always!

  4. CONGRATS THOMAS!! I’m so proud of you!
    ヾ(@⌒ー⌒@)ノ
    You’ve worked so hard. I remember freshman year your mantra was “Four more years…” but you know, it’s been four more years. And we did it! You’re one of the few people I’ll actually miss 3< congrats again! ❤

    • Thank you so much! Oh yes, freshman year, good times, good times… sort of. But I have to admit I’m glad we made good friends (like each other) and that we did learn, hang out, etc. I’ll miss you so much too but with Facebook and our mutual friends I’m sure we’ll be able to stay in touch. (:

  5. Hah, I spent two years trying to get into two, just two, universities: either Oxford or Cambridge. Eventually I settled on applying to Cambridge, because the universities doesn’t like it if you apply to both. And then I got ‘no’. I was pretty devastated. All that running around in the hamster-wheel, for nothing.

    Now I’m actually quite relieved that I didn’t get in. You’ll probably, if you don’t already do, do quite all right elsewhere. Just like I will. As you said, Just you wait. 🙂

  6. Another Cambridge reject here. I’m SO GLAD I didn’t get in. I would have seriously had a breakdown if I’d gone there. Instead I went to Birmingham, had a brilliant time, and made friends on the first day who are still good friends now, 20-odd years later. Congratulations on your acceptances. Every no I’ve had has turned into a good experience or option in the end.

    • Liz, I’m glad that you went to Birmingham and had a brilliant time! Your success and the friends you made are a testament to the idea that things will work out in the end, even after rejection. Thank you for reading and commenting.

  7. First of all, CONGRATS on getting accepted into so many excellent colleges! As a junior, though, this post really resonated with me. I visited Yale for a college tour just yesterday and fell in love with the campus, but the statistic of a less than 7% acceptance rate has been haunting me for the twenty-four hours since I heard it. You’re right, though: rejection is just a “No” and nothing else. There are plenty of other opportunities in plenty of other colleges and I really can’t let small things affect the greater scope of my life, especially as I apply to and hear from colleges during senior year. So, really, thanks for this post, Thomas! 🙂

    • Thanks Keertana! Yale is a fantastic school but it is difficult to get in; it’s great for you to have other options at hand even if you work diligently to attain acceptance at Yale. Your blog really is a work of art and not just for a junior, so I’m confident that if you include a link to it the admissions officers at any college will be impressed! I wish you luck for your upcoming senior year; keep me posted and if you desire any tips/advice don’t be afraid to ask!

  8. Adrian

    Congratulations on your college acceptance, and in addition, kudos on such an inspirational post!

  9. First off, congratulations on the acceptances!! Quite a big part of your life and very exciting, too! I’m glad you were able to celebrate appropriately with such scrumptious looking dessert.

    Secondly – I must once again bow before your wisdom. “Rejection, the beast that tries to break down all of us, can only really say one word. No. That’s all rejection is. One word. Everything else – including the nagging thought that you’re not good enough and you never will be because this one college or this one person or this one employer said no – that’s all in your head. That’s all extra. That’s all rejection wants you to think, when in reality, it can only say a single syllable. No.” So much accuracy. I guess we are our own worst enemies, and it’s up to us the restrictions that we place on ourselves. And now, the sky’s the limit for you 😀 I’m so excited for you right now.

    • Thank you! I know, this is such a huge turning point and I hope I expressed how excited I am in this post. I agree that we can be harsh on ourselves, and while sometimes it helps, perfectionism carries its set of cons as well. Thanks for your continued support and for reading and commenting as always. (:

  10. Congratulations, Thomas! Well done!! I’m so happy for you!
    I love this post, by the way.
    (^-^)

    x
    Rosie

  11. What are leaning towards?

  12. Andreas

    WOOHOO! Congratulations Thomas for the acceptance!! You totally deserved it and shame on those universities for rejecting you. Boo! They’ve lost themselves a bright and promising student. Anyway, I’m still a bit confused, which university did you get into, out of the 4 mentioned universities? Is it University of Pennsylvania? And yes, rejection may be one of the devastated moments we ever had in life, but don’t lose hope, keep going, strive harder and it will all be paid off. And i agree with your statement, just you wait. 🙂

    • Thank you Andreas! Yep, out of the four Ivies I applied to I got accepted by the University of Pennsylvania. (: The time has finally come for us to go off to college, isn’t it exciting? Thanks for reading and commenting as always!

  13. Congrats on all the acceptances, Thomas! 😀 You’ve definitely worked more than hard enough to get them, and I hope you enjoy university life when you start (and I’m sure they’ll be enough gay guys wherever you go 😉 ). I’m glad you didn’t let the beast of rejection get to you. Your story reminds me that my deadline for applying is in precisely 8 months. The whole university/college application cycle is pretty disconcerting to even consider, here’s hoping I manage to get through it in one piece! I’ll have to keep your words in mind – and watch out for admissions officers on my blog, too. ^_^ Congrats again!

    • Thank you! Both of the colleges I’m considering have great reputations for being gay-friendly, so I guess I should get my boyfriend-hunting gear out. (; The college application process is a strenuous one but if you go through it calmly and efficiently it won’t get you down – in fact, I had a lot of fun writing my essays, and I bet you will too. Good luck in the upcoming months and if you desire any tips/advice don’t be afraid to ask!

  14. You already know my feelings on this process, but I’m glad I stumbled upon (waited anxiously for – same difference) this post. My best friend, the one that’s at U of A? She got rejected from Columbia, too. As said friend and I say – those bitches be bitchin’.

    Putting on my serious face, you honestly got accepted into amazing programs. I’m jealous! UPenn is a huge accomplishment in itself. One may be a ‘rejection’, but think of it instead as a show of appreciation. You deserve to go to a college that wants you. It sounds lame, but it’s a better way to look at it than a rejection. You weren’t rejected – some colleges just see your personal worthiness better than others, and those are the ones that wanted you. Because they saw what the people that love and appreciate you see every day, so they took a chance on it.

    Go and celebrate. Make your informed decisions (and gay people are TOTALLY worthy of being a part of that decision – and, PA pride getting in the way here, Philly has a huge gay population). Go and be you, knowing that you will be going to a college that is thrilled to have that real you attend. 🙂

    • Aw, I am mentally reaching out to your friend and giving her a rejection hug. You’re right that some colleges value certain things more than others, not just the Ivies or elite schools.

      And, ha, gay people definitely deserve to be a part of my decision. I’ll consider the LGBTQ atmosphere wherever I go and I’ll take an active part in that society wherever I attend. Thanks for the wise and positive comment John, I always appreciate your perspective!

  15. Cara

    I am way late but give me a high five Thomas! Wowza! It’s so cool to see you write about this and a couple of years ago I would read about you being in the trenches of high school, and just look Thomas here you are now. Awesome feeling right?

    • It’s such a great feeling Cara! A late high five is better than no high five. Thanks for sticking with me all this time – I hope you’re doing well as a nurse or wherever you are now!

  16. Congrats!

    I remember when I got rejections from all the 8 colleges I had applied to.

    Anyways, UPenn! Way to go 😀

    Well deserved though 😀 I like your blog and how you think 🙂

    Good luck for the future 🙂

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