College rejections do not usually make it onto Facebook. How many times have you scrolled through your timeline and seen an excited post decorated with 10 exclamation points: “_______ Class of 2021!” “Semifinalist for _______!” “So honored to have been selected for _______!” The disappointing notifications rarely make an appearance online. They stay hidden, nagging at our insecurities and reminding us of what we wanted so badly, but didn’t get.
For me, Dec. 1 was a difficult day. After winning the NSLI-Y scholarship to study Arabic in Morocco over the summer, I fell in love with language and culture and decided to apply to move to Morocco for a year instead of transitioning into a four-year university. I tried to prevent myself from picking a “first choice” and told my friends that I didn’t have one, but this was it. I had a dream for myself, and that dream existed thousands of miles away in North Africa. When I checked my inbox and read the fateful words, “Unfortunately, you were not selected,” my heart sunk.
Nothing could have prepared me for the sting of rejection. Well-intentioned condolences from family and friends, saying “it was their loss” or “you’re amazing” did not make me feel any better. Almost a week later, the rejection hurts as much as it did when I first received it.
Part of what makes senior year rejections so difficult is that they are the first time hard work does not equate to a favorable outcome. We’re taught to believe that studying and effort will lead to success, and it is exceptionally challenging to learn that this is not necessarily true. Sometimes, we pour all of our cosmic energy into an endeavor and do not get the outcome we want.
My interest in Arabic exists entirely outside of school. It was never to embellish a resumé or promote a club; it was deeply personal and based in a desire to change the world in my own way. For now, the growth of my dream has been stunted. Intuitively, however, I understand that whether or not I can fulfill my dream of living abroad lies in how I respond to this setback. To believe that moving to Morocco is the only way for me to pursue Arabic would be close-minded; to wallow in my disappointment and ignore other opportunities would mean that perhaps my passion for the Middle East does not exist, in earnest, after all.
When I look at myself in the mirror, I see someone who is deeply disappointed and who has been knocked down. I believe, however, that within myself, and each of us, lies the potential to pick ourselves up and find the drive to try again, no matter how upset or hurt we may be. I am one senior who is far from finding the secret to rejections, but perhaps, when the world seems stacked against us, there’s only one thing to do: hold on tight to an unfailing belief in ourselves, and no matter what, don’t let go.