On Rejection

By Giannina Ong

Yesterday, I heard back about the Rhodes Scholarship. (And as you can probably discern from the title of this post, I am not going to be a Rhodes Scholar.) So, how am I dealing with rejection?

From my perspective, the best policy is honesty when it comes to these things. I am heartbroken. Not because I was deluded into thinking that I was meant to be a Rhodes Scholar, but because I put my whole heart into it. I wrote a passionate personal essay. I spilled my guts about my dreams for my academic future to professor after professor.

Then the doubt settles in and I wonder if I wrote about the right thing. Should I have instead written a more passionate, timely, a la "Me too," essay? Should I have written about my ability to multitask? Did I not present my best self? Do I even have a best self?

This other part of me feels that I was simply not enough. That is: what if I had decided to go straight to college after high school? What if I had chosen the better options in life instead of driving into tumultuous waters of typical teenage life? Had I made the wrong choices that led me to this rejection? I think even of the guy I flipped off while driving last week and wonder if this is karma.

The best thing to do is tell people, and listen. I held it in for a few days, got through my classes and homework, and then let it go. I told the people around me because the frustration was going to affect my mood and how I acted. (It does not excuse bad behavior, but does clarify cranky and moodiness.) Telling my mother was the hardest thing to do because I felt like I had let her down. But that is not true.

People say that Millennials have a hard time with rejection because we are so used to succeeding. The truth is Millennials don't allow themselves to fail; we don't take enough chances. I am glad I took this chance and I am better for it. I know what I want to do with my life, whether or not I know how to get there. I am still going to pursue academia, because I know this is what I want to do and I know that I am good/relatively decent at it.

Looking past rejection can be tough, but it can also motivate you dig deeper.