Little Things

I rolled out of bed last Wednesday morning, my legs kicking back sheets and the sun bathing my belongings in pale yellow. Shuffling around in my dorm room, my sandals smooth across the linoleum floor, I brushed back photos of Britin and little letters from friends on the surface of my desk and opened my laptop. The usual rotation: Goodreads, WordPress, Yahoo, Facebook, and finally, Gmail.

Dear Thomas,

Thank you for your application. We have drawn up a shortlist of candidates to be interviewed. I very much regret that it was not possible to include your name on the list.

I read the email twice, just to test myself, to ensure my eyes could see my defeat. Great, I thought to myself. Time to throw myself into a melodramatic fit of sorrow and self-doubt.

Wednesday, I launched myself into denial, fighting every negative feeling I experienced with the tenacity of a velociraptor – I smiled at all the right times, raised my hand in all the right classes, and made all the jokes everyone expected of me. Okay was an understatement. I was Thomas: put together, always attentive, never doubtful. Thomas. Until I watched a video about depression that left me in tears for an hour, clutching a tissue and tearing it into little pieces, shreds swept away into the trashcan so my roommate wouldn’t see.

Thursday, getting out of bed and going to class felt like moving a mountain. Even though I love all of my classes and professors, how could I withstand the weight of my first rejection in college coupled with issues within my family? I tried to fix myself by blasting Taylor Swift on my roommate’s speakers and telling myself the usual – your expectations are too high, the program wasn’t right for you anyway, there were other reasons you were rejected. But it all came out the same in the end: you don’t do enough for people, you won’t make a difference.

Friday, one of my friends and I planned a birthday dinner with gifts for a couple of our hall mates. At one point we had to make last minute invitations, and as we combed through Microsoft Publisher for designs that would work, I laughed for the first time in forever. Accidentally jaywalking to buy my friends cupcakes, ensuring a successful group dynamic at dinner, and just doing something for someone other than myself gave rest to the gnawing inside of me.

Charmander, Doctor Who, and the word "prenatal." What more could you want?

Charmander, Doctor Who, and the word “prenatal.” What more could you want?

Over the weekend I organized another birthday dinner for my best friend and bought her gifts at Food Lion. When the event came together yesterday evening, it gave me time to reflect and realize, once again: it’s the little things that matter. As William Wordsworth said, it’s the small acts of kindness that come together and give life meaning. It sounds so silly now, but that one rejection made me doubt all of my successes and accomplishments in my past few weeks and months in college, when in reality, I know what I love. I love helping people and figuring out their passions and talking them through tough times, and I love interacting with people, even when it just involves the little things, like buying someone food or helping a peer with an essay or choreographing a dance to a Jason Derulo song.

Like with a lot of things in life, your thoughts will determine your experiences in college. I can worry about the big stuff and let some of the best years of my life pass me by. But, I won’t – instead, I’ll grab onto the little things and enjoy the ride, every moment, even the bad ones, for as long as my fingers will hold on.

Look at this beautiful spread. Look at it, and feel amazed.

Look at the beautiful spread I made for my friend. Look at it, and feel amazed.

I would ask if you guys could relate to any of the feels in this post, but I’m a bit more confident than I should be kind of confident that everyone knows what it feels like to be rejected or to worry about the future. Still, please share any experiences or memories this post brought up – solidarity is always appreciated. Also, sorry for the sporadic posting, this past month has been a whirlwind. A fun and intellectually stimulating whirlwind, but a whirlwind nonetheless. I will post more as summer approaches and I have more free time. If you want to check out my brief thoughts on “Hunters in the Snow” by Tobias Wolff or The Lost Art of Listening by Michael Nichols, you can find them here and here, respectively, and I hope you all have a fabulous rest of the week!



Filed under Personal

14 responses to “Little Things

  1. Lisa Footjana

    Thomas!! You are amazing in every aspect and always there for everyone– you do more than enough for people. We need to forever choreograph (especially to pcd) and twerk and create innappropriate words for our dicktionary~

  2. Kelly Jensen

    You know what my first instinct was when I got to the bottom of this post? Not to commiserate or even share the experience of one of my many failures. Or tell you about how success can be just as trying. More, I felt sort of joyful for you because you found a way to deal with this blow. πŸ™‚

  3. I like Kelly Jensen’s reply!!!!! Can I just share that???? πŸ™‚ And I did indeed notice that after the rejection you found joy and laughter by doing something for someone. No one else can determine if you are doing enough for others. The fact that in doing for others made you feel better, says it all. πŸ™‚

  4. The Howling Fantogs

    It’s really inspiring to see what a buzz you get from helping others. It’s a rare quality these days (sadly). And if all else fails, Taylor Swift will always understand yoyr pain, and vice versa. It always feels like an event to get a new Thomas post, so don’t worry about not posting as much. It’s quality, not quantity.

    • I truly cannot imagine an existence without Taylor Swift. Thank you for reading and commenting and for reminding me that it really is quality, not quantity, that counts!

  5. You’re so great! Not many people out there are like you.

  6. Thomas, I’ve received significantly more rejection letters this past month than I expected to, so believe me, I know EXACTLY what you feel. I cried for an entire evening when I got rejected from my top choice school and though I got into my second choice school (and will definitely LOVE it there), for a few solid hours I wasn’t able to think about anything except my failure. It’s ridiculous, looking back, that a mere rejection letter – a few words hastily typed on a piece of paper with little to no emotion – can inspire such an influx of doubt and self-deprecating thoughts. Ultimately, however, you’re absolutely right – it’s the little things in life that bring us happiness and finally define us. You’re lucky to know exactly what it is you want to do with your life, Thomas. I don’t have that same sense of clarity or purpose, but I’m looking forward to figuring it out. As always, fantastic blog post. πŸ™‚

    • Keertana, congratulations on reaching the end of the college admissions process! Even though I’m sorry about your top choice school, I’m glad that you got to grow as a result of your rejection – you took your perspective into your own hands and molded it to fit a positive model of growth that will benefit you in the future. I’m so excited for your journey and to see you find out what you want to do; everyone discovers that at different points in their lives, and some even after college. Once again, congrats, and thank you so much as always for reading and commenting. (:

  7. Dear Thomas, you’re still a first year, so I would not be too depressed about it! Just do whatever you can, even if a little less glamorous than what you want or what your classmates do. The most important thing is how you drive yourself through the experience and making sure you gain everythng you can in whatever opportunity you have.

    Not sure how the enviro is at W&M, but at Welles, it’s pretty much cut-throat and humblebrag. No one is against you, per se, but you always hear about the success stories and there are so many women to admire. Nonetheless, for every 1 successful person, there’s another 10 Wellesley women who aren’t as “successful” (when I say “successful”, I mean it only superficially, high-powered, high-paying jobs, prestigious grad schools, etc), so I wouldn’t sweat it. There are plenty of people like me and you who face rejection at one time or another, or like me, face rejection straight for around 9 months.. (!). The most important thing is not let it immobilize you for such a long time that it becomes debilitating to your personal growth.


    • Thank you for your advice, wise Michelle! You’re right that rejection can be good as long as it does not immobilize you. You’re also correct that I should put things in perspective: as a freshman, I have accomplished a decent amount, and there’s still lots of time and growth for improvement. At ambitious schools like Wellesley and W&M I think it can be difficult to maintain a solid self-esteem if one compares himself or herself to his or her classmates, so I suppose it’s all about doing the best that you can and moving forward from there. Thanks again for reading and commenting, it means a lot to me, especially considering how busy you are.

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