“You’re not good enough”a small voice that is on repeat in my subconscious, and when I am not listening it’s as if it’s not there but if I just stop for a moment, there it is. Ever present. It seeps into my everyday life, I haven’t been able to sleep, I find myself picking at my nails and I feel as though I am not really present. School Admissions can be very stressful, very intimidating and almost defeating.
When I applied to graduate school last year I entered it with a sense of confidence. I had a 4.0, clinical experience , a decent GRE and good letters of recommendation, in my mind a perfect recipe for admittance to any school. I applied to schools in the MD/DC/VA area in Dec/Jan and anxiously waited for my acceptances. February rolled around and I still had not heard back from any schools, being anxious and neurotic as I am, I searched the forums and grad cafe results to see if anyone else had heard anything. This continued for a few weeks when I witnessed as the first round of acceptances from UMD and GWU go out. This only fueled my anxiety. Then mid march the emails came in , waitlisting me. It was a big hit to my self-esteem and my ego. What was wrong with me? Why hadn’t they let me in? I had been attending open houses, sending emails and taking to admissions committees, I didn’t understand.
I attempted to say positive, thinking that as long as I stayed positive and engaged that I would have to be let in and they would accept me off the waitlist. I stayed strong until April 15th, the arbitrary date that all schools have set for the acceptance of offers and then on April 16th all the schools scramble to try to fill open spots. A lot of people move off the waitlist or get into other schools they were waiting to get into and then have to decline other offers, in other words it’s a big day and a big mess.
April 15th was a hard day, I was very anxious and nervous and barely slept and then it was April 16th.
At the time I was working a full-time as a nanny and going to-night school to get my pre-reqs. I put my phone on loud and was neurotically checking my emails. Nothing, then a received a phone call, I frantically pulled out my phone and tried to answer it but it only rang once and I wasn’t able to get it to it.
I call back, no answer. I call again, no answer. I can’t figure out who has called and my anxiety is through the roof, it’s a Virginia number, that’s a good sign.I text my husband and tell him and somehow he reserves the number through his magical internet skills and figures out that its the admission director at GWU. My jaw drops, GWU? That was my reach school, the gods are good to me! I hit the forums and confirm that GWU has been calling students to let them off the waitlist.
I try the number a few more times but no answer so I decide to call the admissions office at GWU and ask if I was called….I am put on hold, then the nice girl on the other end says, the director was only calling to see if you still wanted to remain on the waitlist, my heart drops. What, that doesn’t make sense, of course I want to remain on the waitlist, I am left feeling disappointed. I tell her yes and she hangs up.
I feel shaken and disillusioned. What just happened, in the months to come I would try to piece that story together, I didn’t get in anywhere last season, I was wait listed to every school I applied to. Then in May I received emails saying that schools were full and unfortunately I would have to reapply. I think what happened with GWU was that there was also another girl from Dallas that was let into their class and he had mistakenly called me instead of her. All the excitement, the anxiety and the fear was because of a mistake. It felt awful.
Last year was really rough. After being
rejected, let me re phrase that, after being not accepted, it was really defeating. It made me really question my own identity, my self and whether I was good enough. I was embarrassed when people asked about how my application went, did I get in? What happened? I would pretend it wasn’t a big deal, that I would get in next time and that it happened, but the reality was that I felt embarrassed and ashamed.
During the application season I had attended an open house at UMD and found my way at the door of one of the faculty members Dr. GS. I asked her for an opportunity to do research in her lab and she had given me an opportunity to start that summer. I figured it would be the first step in the right direction if I was to reapply again next year. She welcomed me and one day took me aside into her office and told me that I had been so close to getting in, she also however told me my GRE wasn’t good enough, that my CV sucked and that I would need to take a class the next summer that I was missing. It was a dose of reality and my perception changed from that of being the victim to empowering me to take action.
The reality was that I was rejected for a good reason, I had lacked more clinical observation hours, my GRE could improve and my CV was a mess. All things that I had overseen when applying and the reality was that I was good enough but I could be better, and I needed to try harder and be honest with myself. Stop victimizing myself and focusing on being rejected. I should have taken that rejection as a gift, a gift to try harder, to do more and do improve.
It was the dose of reality that I needed and all that anger and resentment and feelings of worthlessness turned into fuel. I channeled it, I retook my GRE, observed more this year, did research at UMD , volunteered in a senior center and really took time for myself. I worked less and focused on improving my CV. I worked on getting great letters of recommendation, put my heart into my statement and re-applied with fierceness.
This time around, the second time, I find myself in a more serene place. I don’t feel as anxious, I don’t think about my application and I am sleeping. I haven’t been on the forums which only fueled my anxiety. I am happy and I know that if I don’t get in this year it will only fuel me to do even better this next year and reapply again. Keep on fixing whatever it is that is making me unqualified. It’s because I faced the worse, being rejected was the worst outcome and I got through it. I thank my husband for being supportive and really putting up with me during my worst, you know the times when I had been super anxious and everything bothered me and I would clean neurotically. Those times, he also always encourages me to be better. So cheers to those who make us better, a friend, your family , spouse even your dogs. I love dog snuggles, who doesn’t?
So lets see what happens, the date approaches soon , so many decisions based around an acceptance.