After submitting applications to six universities, I patiently awaited communication from them. I was hopeful for at least an interview! The weeks felt like years and during this waiting time I struggled with a lot of negative thinking and self defeating thoughts which significantly impacted my anxiety, “what if I don’t get in?” Sometimes we can be our worst enemy. Don’t fall for that trap, it’s not worth it.
I received a lot of external support, motivation and encouraging words. I found ways to distract myself from thinking about the applications. After all, they were already submitted and there was nothing I could do. The ship had already set sail and it was full steam ahead!
The first communication came via email informing me that I was not selected for an interview. I was crushed! I cried, got angry then deleted the email. After that, it seemed like the rejection committee of the world decided to slap me several times. The second rejection came in the mail, then the third, fourth and fifth. I’m case you didn’t realize it, I don’t deal with rejection well, so I cried and cried and cried. My parents comforted me and reminded me that “something would work out, don’t give up, stay faithful.” Faithful? Did they realize that I had applied to six schools and I just read my fifth thanks-for-applying-but-no letter? There was nothing that could be said to comfort me. I had decided to forget the idea of school, and made up my mind to continue working. I convinced myself that maybe school was not meant to be. Remember that whole self defeating thinking? It was in full force and I was head of the negative thinking committee!
It became difficult for me to see the positive in this situation. I couldn’t believe that they didn’t even offer me an interview! I became irritable when anyone asked if I heard from schools yet and avoided the topic as best as possible. Reflecting on that time in my life, I now realize that there were a lot of shame based emotions and part of me felt like a failure. I thought I was a disappointment to my parents and to myself. But the real failure was not believing that I was good enough and that maybe, just maybe what I wanted was not meant to be.
I eventually released some of the negative energy and reminded myself that things always fall into place. I was able to turn my stinking-thinking around and tried to see the positive in the situation. I saw the challenge as a test of my faith and endurance and decided to just try again with applications the following year. My dad encouraged me to email the program directors to find out what I would need to do to become a more competitive applicant and what areas I needed to improve on before I re-apply. As much as I didn’t want to do it, I knew he made a good point.
This challenging period taught me a few lessons that I would share with you:
– don’t send in applications too close to the deadline date. The earlier you get your application in, the better your chances of having your application considered.
– don’t just apply to one or two schools. Broaden your horizon for graduate study. The higher up the educational ladder you go, the more competitive it becomes. You want to give yourself a fair chance.
– bear in mind that you may have your “dream school” in mind, but that does not mean you will get in. Don’t encourage tunnel vision in your life. Explore several possibilities.
– always have a plan b.
– don’t personalize the letters of rejection. It’s nothing against you personally. It may simply be that they already found enough students to fill their cohort by the time you applied.
– ask questions and get answers from the right people before you make assumptions.
– if you don’t get accepted, it’s not the end of the world!
-did I mention always have a plan b?
~”failure does not define you, you define your failure” KC