The Rejected's Guide to Handling Rejection
I worked my ass off in high school. My average was an A+ and my SAT score was nearly perfect. I was captain of the volleyball team, founder of a creative writing club, lobbied in congress, wrote a book, and headed a few other committees and teams, but you get the picture, right? And then when I received my college status updates, I learned that hard work really pays off.
Happy (Almost) April Fools!
I was rejected from five of the six schools I applied to. Granted, I applied to pretty prestigious universities, but everyone told me I was worthy of prestige. That became quite the joke once I received my rejections and the schools that people said I would “thrive in” and “explore amazing academic opportunities” became “nerd schools” and “irrelevant.” I don’t know what the point of ragging on the school was, but I guess people thought my rejection would make me less… nerdy and irrelevant? By dissociation perhaps?
I’m not here to talk about the process and critique it, because it evidently works for a lot of people and I’m not the type to mourn my privileges of tutors and summer programs and a stable household. I am here to share how I feel and maybe someone (from the hundreds of thousands of people rejected from colleges each year) will feel a little less alone. Since colleges love lists and numbers and non-personal, non-human approaches to life, let’s make a list!
# No one will understand you, and that’s okay. Seriously, nobody can relate to your exact situation, emotional threshold, expectations, and pride level. Everyone is super supportive B.R. (Before Rejection and/or the pint of Baskin Robins you ate that day) but that could just lead to hopefulness or heavy expectations of yourself. If you’re anything like me, you put ten times more pressure on yourself than other people. If someone understood you and how you’re feeling totally, you should be a little worried that you’ve been cloned.
# It really feels like shit and it feels personal. Unless you got rejected from your number one choice, it’s hard to relate to how much it fucking sucks that YOU got rejected. You personally, no matter how much you logically know that the process is a lot of luck and a lot of bias. “Don’t take it personally” “It’s not about you.” But my name was at the top of that rejection letter! But they said in frustratingly generic terms that they “appreciate” my hard work and “regret” that they won’t have ME at their university! I’m going to tell you once again, like everyone else does, that it’s not personal.
# It’s not the end of the world, just a massive radioactive natural disaster. Though it feels like your entire life plan has been corrupted and ruined, your college does not determine your life. And every college has a lot to offer and cool people to meet and great potential. Have you ever imagined that in some alternate universe you exist and live a different life? So this is just an alternate reality, but it’s not a bad one. If you want to be an electrical engineer or an architect or a panda caretaker, your college rejection cannot stop you.
# You’re allowed 24-48 hours to (safely!) bask in your misery. Take a bath. Lock yourself in the bathroom. Watch The Little Mermaid seven times. Shut off your phone. Lean on your friends. Listen to angsty music that makes you feel worse. Listen to happy music that makes you feel worse. Eat an entire pizza pie by yourself. You worked hard and this might be one of the worst feelings ever and you deserve this! Just like you deserved a college acceptance, damn it. Go eat another bowl of ice cream.
# You cried, you died inside (just a lil bit), and now it’s time to move on. It’s not fair that you have to get out of bed and go back to your shitty high school and see your shitty friends (who actually sent really comforting texts to you) and pretend everything is not shitty. Alas, life is not fair.
# Don’t let anyone dull your sparkle. Haters gonna hate. Sometimes those haters are your parents who don’t let you go to that party. Sometimes those haters are the heartless demons known as admissions officers. Don’t let ‘em get you down. If anything, prove them wrong. You’re going to succeed someday and all those colleges that rejected you will have missed out on your awesomeness. Honestly, screw them. You’re an amazing, beautiful, talented, and complex human being who is not defined by an application, a score, a super awkward interview, and definitely not by a college acceptance.
# Congratulate yourself. So the outcome of high school and the entire college process wasn’t ideal. Still, you got through it! Congratulations on surviving the stress and pressure. And unless you’re an extremely rare case, you probably were accepted somewhere. So pop open the champagne (that you don’t have because we’re broke and illegal adolescents) and smile a bit. Life is what it is, so might as well make the best of it.