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.
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.
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.
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!