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Student Blog: You're More Than That Email

To All of the Seniors Reading Rejection Letters

Student Blog: You're More Than That Email

Mine happened over the course of a single, excruciating week. On Friday, I was waiting to go into my Model UN session when I got the first email. My heart skipped a beat, then it sank. That email was from the college I wanted to go to the least, but it still stung. It didn't bode well. I went into the session and blundered my way through, dazed and heartbroken. That night, I hid my face on the bus ride home as I cried into my backpack.

The second one came right before bed that night. It was one in the morning and I had stayed up late preparing my materials for the next day's session. When I read it, I went into my parents' room and crawled into their bed like I was a toddler. I ended up falling asleep next to my mom, reduced to a whimpering mess, while she rubbed my back.

I had to wait until Wednesday for the next one. It was going to come at 4:00, so I came home from school and paced around my room for an hour. This was the big one; the one I had been waiting for. 4:00 came around. "We cannot offer you a place in our freshman class." I took my pennant off of my wall, grabbed all of my brochures and hats and shirts, and shoved them in a bin in the closet. I wouldn't be needing those.

The last one was the next Saturday, and by then, I had lost all hope. I was at a Saturday study session at school for AP Lit, and when 9:00 rolled around and I opened the email, I left. Walked straight out of the building. I got into my truck and cried, then almost backed into a Subaru and cried some more. I made it home, went to my room, and hid under the covers, shutting the world out.

You always hear beautiful stories. The girl who raised herself from disadvantage to acceptance at every Ivy League school. The boy who opens his letter with his parents peering over his shoulder, jumping up and kissing and hugging and crying tears of joy when the news is good. That was how I always pictured this time in my life-jubilant. I was a great student-valedictorian. I balanced my artistic extracurriculars with leadership opportunities and community service. I started working on my Common App in ninth grade. Teachers, counselors, family, friends, college representatives all told me that the outlook was rosy, and yet, here I was-I didn't get into college.

They make this our entire identity. All you hear in high school is how each class you take will look on your college application; how every award and activity you do will look on a resume. We put ourselves onto these pieces of paper, distill our very beings into easy-to-read bullet points, and then send them out into the world for judgment. For acceptance or rejection, quite literally. And in the end, you get a piece of paper back-a piece of paper that not only holds the key to your future but is also a sick joke. A piece of paper that either says "we accept you" or "we reject you."

When you have a physical reminder, put down in writing, that somebody took in who you are, read that list of what makes you you, and decided that it wasn't good enough, it's a pain beyond pain. If I wasn't so numb that week, I don't know if I would have survived. And worse yet, you now have to go forth in the world knowing that there is some part of you that doesn't read well to others-a part that you got no feedback about, no tips to improve your performance as a human being. Just a cruel question mark of inadequacy.

I got into a college, in the end-my mom's alma mater, located in her hometown. It's a small liberal arts school with minute class sizes and a theater intimate enough to make microphones redundant. It's in the middle of rural Western Pennsylvania, the corner of the world that I've lived in for almost twenty years from now. Allegheny is the antithesis of every school that I applied to, in every sense of the word.

And I love it here-the people, the hills, the brick sidewalks, the alligator statue on the quad. I regret what brought me, but I love what I've found.

So, to all the seniors out there mourning the lives that you planned for yourselves and the futures that will never be, know one thing: this is the beginning. Never the end. (And do yourself a favor-delete those emails and shred those letters.)

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From This Author Student Blogger: Sydney Emerson