“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.
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.
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.