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Not Gonna be a Jayhawk…

February 4, 2011
Crumpled Rejection Letter

Mine was really an e-mail and a digital form letter...but you get the idea.

KU made their choices early. Or, they seem early to me. Well, earlier than the other schools. And the verdict: it looks like I’m not gonna be a Jayhawk.

Last Friday they e-mailed me to let me know that a decision had been made regarding my application. I was in Minneapolis with Dee visiting Jewels at the time and I got the message Saturday afternoon (after sleeping off the karaoke party the night before, having a VERY late lunch and touring the U of M — it feels like an airport BTW).

We were gearing up for a night out with the girls: fancy dinner, high-heels, big hair, all that good stuff. And I got the message. I probably shouldn’t have opened it, but I wasn’t thinking. Honestly, my brain was still soaked with vodka from the events of the previous evening. So I clicked the link. There it was: a rejection letter. Three sentences concisely and rather politely informing me that they didn’t want me.

My first reaction was pretty good:

I guess KU just isn’t the right place for me. Besides, I have applications out at several other schools and they are going to choose me. There will be a mentor out there at one of the schools who reads my work and decides he/she has to have me as a student. A teacher who will adore my voice and see something he or she wants to polish to an illustrious shine.

Worst-case scenario, no one will pick me this year and I’ll go to grad school in 2012. No biggie.

Great. Good pep-talk. Time to go get ready.

I closed my laptop and went upstairs for the hairspray and lip gloss before dinner. But while I was in the shower I couldn’t help but cry. I guess rejection is always painful. Especially after working so hard just to get a shot. In fact, knowing that I might not make something after trying really hard is part of why I stopped trying anything unless I was assured that I would win or succeed.

Well, I wound up crying in a towel that was too small for me on Julie’s bathroom floor and she and Dee were very supportive. Even Julie’s roommate Brandon was sweet to me. My sister said it was probably a good thing that I got the news while I was surrounded by my besties. She’s probably right.

It was hard to shake the sadness and move on to a night out with the girls. But slowly but surely I floated up out of the funk and we had a great night. In fact, the dinner we had was probably the best meal I’ve ever eaten!

But the “rejected by KU” story isn’t over yet. The letter had said that I was welcome to ask the English department for an explanation of why I wasn’t chosen. So I did. I think knowing what they liked and why they didn’t choose me is potentially some very valuable information. So I e-mailed them yesterday. Now I’m afraid of the impending answer.

I don’t know when they will send it — or if they will send it at all — but I don’t think I can read it until I hear back from all the schools. I mean it was hard enough to stop myself from thinking that if KU didn’t want me Iowa wouldn’t want me. But I know that isn’t true.

Anyway, just thought I’d share now that the idea doesn’t make me cry anymore. And I’m wondering, is there anything you haven’t tried because you don’t know for sure that you will succeed at it? And if so, how’s that working out for you?

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18 Comments leave one →
  1. February 4, 2011 12:12 pm

    I don’t think rejection is ever easy. For example, I’ve had two feature articles and two smaller columns accepted by Cracked now, so I know I’m capable of writing for them. But, I just had a pitch get rejected yesterday, and it still put me in a crabby mood for the rest of the day.

    I think we just have to force ourselves to get over it.

    I see nothing wrong with asking for an explanation, either. It’s always good to know.

    Like

  2. February 4, 2011 1:44 pm

    Putting yourself out there is the bravest thing you can do. Continuing to fave faith in yourself in the face of rejection is the second bravest. I don’t think there’s anyone alive who hasn’t faced rejection before they found success. And don’t ever be afraid to get feedback. Feedback is just that. Take from it whatever will support you in your vision of yourself as a writer.

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  3. Fee permalink
    February 4, 2011 1:45 pm

    I think that not trying something out because one is afraid to fail is very limiting. Obviously, you’re not going to get it perfect the first time, and you’re likely never going to get it perfect all the time even if you try. Sometimes you just have to dip your feet into the water and take the results in stride.

    Especially since this is the first grad school that replied you, it might make you a little worried about the decisions of the other schools. It’s pretty unlikely that you’ll be rejected by all of them though. Also, there are numerous reasons why you could have been rejected, and not all of them may be personal. It won’t hurt to read and reflect on their answer when they send it, because then at least you’ll know what they’re looking for or what you could do better if you plan to apply again.

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    • February 4, 2011 2:39 pm

      I was talking to one of my friends recently about this and I said something to the effect of, “I don’t know the best way to do this, I’ve never done it before.”

      Like

  4. Holly Wipf permalink
    February 4, 2011 1:45 pm

    Hey Lady,
    In sales, we are rejected all the time. I never get used to it and sometimes when the feedback is about my style or choice strategy it is hard to hear. Then when the feedback is on a teammate and it isn’t me – worse yet, I feel I haven’t prepped them enough. I think rejection is in life and how we bounce back is so much more critical. It is where we build character! Good luck and hang in there.

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    • February 4, 2011 2:40 pm

      Holly my WIPF! Thank you for reading and commenting! And thanks for the feedback. I’m just learning how to bounce back well.

      Like

  5. Tanya permalink
    February 4, 2011 3:38 pm

    Rejection is never easy … I’ve found even when applying for something I don’t really want, it still hurts not to be picked.

    Supposedly most procrastination is linked to a fear of failure. I could see that, and it could explain why I’m putting off several things in my life.

    Like

    • February 4, 2011 3:40 pm

      Almost all of my procrastination is linked to fear of failure or deluded perfectionism…so maybe you heard that from me. 😉

      Like

  6. 2blu2btru permalink
    February 4, 2011 3:57 pm

    So far, I’ve stopped submitting my writing for contests or possible publication, as I didn’t win three contests I’d entered–one at my then university and two for literary magazines. I’ still trying to force myself to get back out there. It’s hard to be rejected, even when you know you did/didn’t do your best, and that thousands of people must have applied as well. I want to be the best; I want to be chosen. It’s hard to risk rejection even when you know it’s inevitable.

    Like

    • February 4, 2011 4:33 pm

      Another who feels my pain! Well I hate to be trite (that’s a lie, secretly I love it or I would just stop) but when at first you don’t succeed…

      I think you should keep trying. YOU CAN DO IT!

      Like

  7. February 5, 2011 6:20 pm

    I’m sorry to hear this Crystal. It really sucks to be rejected from anything, especially when you really feel you deserve it. I’ve actually had a life blessed with hardly any rejection, but recently I’ve realized that hasn’t prepared me very well for when I do get rejected. For example, for half of this week, I was coordinating an article with Marie Claire for my story/blog and coordinating other un-brides. For much of the time I was working with the reporter, she was very excited about the story and the other stories of women I had found who cancelled their weddings, but I found out yesterday that her editor decided not to move forward with the story. I was incredibly bummed all day yesterday. And, it occurred to me that I haven’t had to be let down too much in my life. But that’s also because I haven’t really allowed my self to get excited about things like I did this article. But, it was fun to get excited about something for once. I don’t know… just sucks. Like this sucks for you. I hope you get some good news soon that will take its place 🙂

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    • February 6, 2011 4:13 pm

      Thanks for sharing, Catherine. I’m sorry to hear about your disappointment too (partially for selfish reasons — I want to read that article!). And you’re right about good news coming along. I actually had an AMAZING date last night. I know it’s a totally different area of my life, but I’m thrilled about it. I warned him that I might even blog about it.

      Like

      • February 7, 2011 11:29 am

        Awesome!! That’s so good to hear. And I hope you do blog about it 🙂

        Like

        • February 7, 2011 11:56 am

          I’m going to wait a bit to see if it goes anywhere before I blog about it I think. I’m already turning into Gigi from He’s Just Not That Into You. Like wondering when I can expect to hear from him again. Disappointed that I haven’t heard from him and thinking it may have been a one-time thing rather than the beginning of something bigger. Oh sigh.

          Like

  8. February 11, 2011 1:29 pm

    As a free lance writer, I am used to rejection. I get 100 rejections for every accepted query. It is part of life. You need to have self confidence and absolutely read the reasons why they rejected you becuae it could possibly aid you in future applications. For example when I read your letter about yourself, I said to myself this girl has no self confidence and it shows. Talking about being ordinary is not what gets you into grad school.

    Even if you don’t have self confidence there is the old “fake it until you make it” idea that you need to project confidence.

    It is absolutely important in sales that I worked at for a number of years. I got rejected a lot until I developed a killer opening pitch for cold calling businesses (the toughest job out there) I came in with a big smile on my face and announced that: “I am a fly by night salesman with a fly by night company here to rip you off any way that I can get away with it. In fact, if you are smart, you will throw me out right now”. Totally counter-intuitive, but it was so outrageously over the top that they busted out laughing and said, okay, what have you got. I increased my closing percentage tremendously and achieved success with it. I had to project self confidence whether or not I felt it or not. In other words, never let them see you sweat.

    If anyone offers to share with you why they rejected you, instead of seeing it as a put down designed to crush your spirit, see it as an investment into your future and trying to help you succeed. Much easier to take.

    Blessings on you and yours
    John Wilder

    Like

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