As any other Ivy-dreamers, my eyes were fixated to a 5.5-inch screen displaying a kind of the most important letters I had ever received since 1997. My hands were vibrating. My lips and tongue were muttering and murmuring unpleasant words. The letters were read one by one, without meeting any satisfying smile until the end. The only words coming out of my mouth were “this feels like heavy rain, and perfected by Katrina.” I got 6 (or seven? I forgot the exact number) rejections in one single night—not even waitlists, but plain, straight Dean of Admissions’ sorries.
That night, I could not even live for one more hour. I called my mother to make sure that she did not get her hopes up anymore. At that very moment, I started to learn more about failure, and how to overcome it—something I’ve never done before.
Let It Go!!
I am not going to sing Idina Menzel’s here, since I am not a musical fan, but this song title really stuck on my mind at the time I was rejected by my first love, the one and only, Yale. Whatever emotion and feeling you are going through, believe me, “letting it go” is just the thing you really need. Falling in love? Looking back in anger? Mesmerized by a cute little puppy continuously smooth-barking at you? Just let it go.
I once read this book called “Tuesdays with Morrie” by Mitch Albom, in which a section called “Emotions” taught me to let the feeling flows. This sounded weird, but this was exactly how I overcame my rejections: by letting all the sadness and the disappointments flow like the river stream and by allowing my tears to rush on my cheeks, falling to the pillow.
At the very first point of your rejection, this “let it go”—or fine, “let it flow”—stuff should be the very first thing you do, before you finally get detached from it; it is actually somehow logical, that when you let all the things fly away, you can get detached from those things (or, wait, is it “logical” at all?). Therefore, in this beginning step there are two things you should follow: a) let it go and b) get detached from it.
(In case you really need to listen to Let It Go)
Rise and Shine
To be honest, it took me about twenty and some hours to get detached from the sadness and disappointment of being rejected. However, after successfully getting detached, I already knew what I should do. Rise. And shine. And smile.
I woke up at seven just to find my eyes were so miserable. I got up, stood up in front of my nine roommates, and then smiled to each of them. They all knew the bad news, but they all knew I could never let myself down by just six (or seven, or later I also found about twenty other rejections and waitlists) rejection letters, so all of them smiled back at me. I washed my face and had breakfast. There I went on; having conversation with my classmates was the best thing I could do.
In “It’s Kind of a Funny Story” by Ned Vezzini, I learned that we need an “anchor” to help with our depression. There Craig—the main character—chose drawing a weird map in a human head painting for an anchor. Well, me? I pointed out conversations to be my anchor—not the people. Because through conversations, I let all the hidden words and complains shared with other people, regardless whether they listened or not; my loads were lifted.
Tip: a) pick your anchor, and b) don’t forget to rise, shine, and smile.
You are great!
Go to the mirror and see the reflection of a person who has been through tons of accomplishments and achievements in either an athletic event, a Mathletic event, or a teenager’s life-ic event. You matter. You are great in your own way. No other person will realize this before you realize it on your own.
At the time I finished with my “anchor”, I reminded myself of how hard and how proud I was to stand on my feet—two feet that brought me to a medal in a science fair and another medal in the science olympiad. I decided these feet, not the rejections, define me. Like what Barney Stinson said in “How I Met Your Mother”, “when I get sad, I stop being sad, and be awesome instead.”
Just remember, you are awesome, just like Barney, The Legend.
Let’s Get Back on Track!
After all the melancholic days passed, you do not even dare to look back on those evils; it is the time to get back on track. You may set up new goals. For instance, if in your love life you are rejected by the captain of the cheerleading squad, you may want to give the captain of glee club a shot. On other hand, you may build the new plans for the same goal.
In my case, I dug up what mistakes I had on my previous application, and learned from those mistakes—which I found to be fatal, extremely fatal and lethal. Since then, I got back on track and I’m getting ready to fill other applications this October; I refuse to die.
What you really need here is a) your thoroughness in evaluating your mistakes: why you failed, why you got B minus instead of A plus. Then, you obviously need b) creativity to achieve either your second chance or your new target. Finally, you should never forget your c) persistence and determination.
Live Your Short, yet Awesome Life!
Congratulations! You have now learned so much in your teenage age. Remember that Thomas Edison needed to build 2000 light bulbs before getting the “right one”. You will fall, but you have the choice to refuse to give in and instead rise, smile and become AWESOME; rejection, that little helpless obstacle, should never stop you from getting to the top.
Alief Moulana just graduated from high school, and is on a gap year right now. He plans to spend his gap year, exploring his country Indonesia, taking classes on subjects that interest him and by finding ways to give back to his community. His interests span a variety of fields from culture and politics to psychology and education.