Rethinking the Rejection Letter

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Stella Lau (Photo credit: Maya Cueva)

It’s the start of a new school year. I’m seeing my friends off to college. I thought I’d be going with them. But it didn’t work out that way.

I was rejected from all the universities I applied to: just six very elite colleges and zero safety schools. I don’t know, it was probably an ego thing. I thought that I was too good for state schools. Also, I aspire to be an artist. There’s not exactly a straight path. And I didn’t want to admit I didn’t know what I was doing, so I fumbled by myself through the application process.

When it became clear I wouldn’t be attending a four-year college in the fall, I felt like I’d failed. I kept thinking back on my dad’s graveyard shifts, my encouraging teachers, and the many hours I studied. It all felt wasted on somebody who couldn’t get into even one college.

I mentally prepared myself for negative comments: that I was stupid, a failure, a disappointment. But when I started opening up to friends and teachers, they comforted me and reassured me that the efforts spent on my education hadn’t gone to waste. Their support helped me move on.

All throughout high school, I was told college was my next and only step. Being rejected opened my eyes to how many options there actually are. I could go to Paris and study at Beaux Arts. I could attend trade school. I could skip post-secondary education altogether. The possibilities are overwhelming, but also exciting.

For now, I’ve enrolled in community college. Part of me is bitter about missing out on the traditional freshman. But i’m also glad to sort out some of the confusion of transitioning to adulthood, without the burden of a pricey tuition.

After having my life completely structured for 18 years, it’s up to me now. To be honest, I feel liberated, if still a teeny bit scared.

With a Perspective, I’m Stella Lau.

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