It happens every time: the same sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach while your eyes skim over the words "We regret to inform you…" or "We are unable to admit you at this time". Rejection comes in many forms, whether it be in the opening lines of a depressing email or in the simple lack of your name on a list that you knew you should have been on. It never gets easier to look at these supposed failures on your part; you never realize how easy it is to blame yourself for not getting onto a cast list for a play or into a certificate program for your major (both scenarios I have gone through this past month) until you start questioning why you weren't good enough.
For me, high school was relatively rejection-free. I breezed through auditions for the school musicals and got the parts I wanted. I got into all of the colleges I applied to except for one. Both of my prom dates for junior and senior year were settled quickly and without hassle. I certainly had my fair share of disappointments and drama throughout my high school years, but for the activities I was most passionate about, I found myself to be doing pretty well.
Of course, college life tends to show you a sneak peek of the real world, and I certainly received my wake-up call. Suddenly I was applying to leadership positions and auditioning for musicals at college and swiftly getting turned down. Needless to say, I was discouraged. What am I doing wrong? I asked myself after I wasn't called back for a role in a play I really wanted. Am I not good enough? The adjustment from doing well in the proverbial "small pond" of high school to seemingly failing in the "big pond" of a major university was something I struggled with freshman year and something I still struggle with.
With each rejection, whether it be from a director, a club, or even a boy over text, I felt disappointed, angry, and sad. But rejection tends to help us more than harm us, even if we don't believe it in the moment. With each rejection came a new opportunity for me: where I may have been involved in a musical, I found a really awesome music group to be a part of. Where I may have gotten into a certificate program, through my rejection, I got an opportunity to write for the school paper. I realize now that rejection opens the doors we ignored when putting our sole focus on something else. Rejection doesn't break us down; it makes us stronger.
So, to all of the college students out there feeling ready to give up after hearing yet another "no", don't. A "yes" may be just around the corner.