By: Annamarie White
Thank you for your interest in [insert Important Georgetown Activity]. We genuinely enjoyed reading your application. Unfortunately, we had many applicants this semester and are unable to offer you a position on our staff at this time.
Raise your hand if you’ve gotten one of these emails.
Ugh. Another “it’s okay to fail” speech from some girl on a soapbox thinking that she’s going to drop a fat bomb of wisdom that opens my eyes and makes me want to bathe in a sea of rejection letters.
Well joke’s on you, because I am neither wise nor standing on a soapbox. In fact, I write to you today from my living room in the basement of Village B, still sweaty post-Yates and licking peanut butter off of a spoon at 9:37AM.
I’m not here to throw clichés in your face, but I will acknowledge that there is a reason that clichés are so popular: I mean, they’re essentially the truth dressed up in fancy, eloquent clothing. They’re there to reassure you that whatever you are dealing with has happened to approximately one zillion other people (you special snowflake, you), and that you will survive and you will learn and you will grow.
But perhaps you aren’t ready for all this meta-talk quite yet. The sting of “Dear applicant” is still fresh and you’re just looking for a way to get through the next few days. Well, allow me to introduce myself: my name is Annamarie and I, too, am a fellow reject. According to my latest tally, I have filled out 17 applications over the course of my five semesters here at Georgetown. Nine of these applications have been rejected (damn it, B&G, just let me walk backwards with you!!). On the other hand, I have also sent a handful of rejection letters in my day.
I have been in your shoes. I have been in my shoes. I have gone through the entire collection of rejection-related footwear. I have walked a mile; I have been around the block. The rejection block. In the shoes. I’m not sure where this metaphor is going. Should I drop my English minor? Oh, God. Time for my weekly existential crisis. SOS. One minute, I’m just going to give my mom a call…
Anyways, the point is, after a semester or two at Georgetown most of you will encounter rejection. I thought it might be helpful to see how someone who (proudly, thank you very much) has had a general acceptance rate of less than 50% has learned how to cope with this rejection. So here it is: with my guidance, you, too, can master the art of failing in just 3 easy steps!
How to Succeed at Failure in 3 Easy Steps:
Step 1: Be upset. Being upset means you cared about what you were applying to. This is a good thing. There’s no shame in being invested in something, and it’s normal to feel discouraged when all doesn’t go as planned. So have a mini-meltdown. Go for an aggressive, movie-montage run in the rain or curl up in bed and backstalk your best friend on Facebook. Find their photos from eighth grade and make them relevant again. Reminisce about your own awkward years and allow yourself to laugh. Don’t think this will work?
Exhibit A: this photo of me bouncing into a wall exists on my Facebook. Just being the epitome of grace and beauty over here, folks.
Step 2: Reach out. Maybe you’ll want to re-apply, maybe you won’t. Either way, you’ll learn a lot from hearing why they didn’t take you this time around. Was it the way you answered that one question in your application, or how you came off in your interview? Maybe they liked you a lot but were serious when they said they just didn’t have a spot for you this semester. There’s only one way to find out.
Step 3: Get over it. So now you’ve been sad and you’ve been proactive. What do these two things have in common? They both focus on the rejected application. Time to focus on you. Now’s the time to start looking for other ways to fill your time. This does not have to be another Georgetown club. Maybe you want to work on your photography skills by going into the city on the weekends or perhaps you’re really trying to focus on your schoolwork this semester. Hey, maybe you want try your hand at forming your own organization! Whatever your next step is, I can promise you two things: firstly, that contrary to popular belief, it is possible to make friends at Georgetown outside of clubs (think about all the times you are surrounded by people here: class, Lau, in line for wok at Leo’s. Introduce yourself! Being friendly is generally a key ingredient to making new friends). Secondly, as long as you are doing something that makes you happy, it Does. Not. Matter. whether you’re part of a huge, established club or whether you’re flying solo. People in [Insert Georgetown Club] club are not the definitive Cool People – people who do things that they are passionate about are the real Cool People, club or not.
There you have it. Will this be a process that works for everyone? Hell no. That would be creepily homogeneous, and Thirty Seventh is not about that life. “How to Succeed at Failure in 3 Easy Steps” works for me because it allows me to feel upset about a rejection but also forces me to focus on the positive. It allows me to realize that whether or not I was accepted, I learned something from the application process. I gained interview experience or cleaned up my resume, or perhaps I realized that I didn’t actually want to be a part of that club anyway. Whatever the lesson, I’m never the same person I was before I applied. A word of advice for you, young grasshopper: take each rejection in stride, and put your energy into getting excited. I mean, seriously, we go to one of the most spectacular universities in the nation (I’m not biased though) in one of the coolest cities. It’s definitely not a perfect institution, but it is one that provides its students with some pretty [expletive that starts with “f”] incredible opportunities. So come on, Jack and Jane Hoya, send out applications and relish your rejections. Bathe in a sea of them if you want to. Embroider them onto a throw pillow. Write an angsty acrostic poem to the word, “FAILURE.” Be sad, be productive, and then move on with your life, because you, my friend, have got a lot to do.
Whoops, sorry. Did exactly what I said I wasn’t going to do and got up on that soapbox towards the end. I’ll be leaving now.