DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.

"We Regret To Inform You..."


I get rejected from stuff* at John Jay all the time.


I've been rejected from stuff, booted out of stuff that I was accepted into**, and I've also not-qualified for stuff that I'd applied to (so really, my rejection had started even before I'd even had the chance to commit). Here's a real rejection letter that I got:



Dear Anna,

Thank you for participating in the [name redacted] interview process. We regret to relay that we are unable to offer you the [position]. We had an incredibly rich pool of applicants this year. We appreciate the time you took to apply and were excited to hear more about your interests. It was a difficult decision considering your experiences.

This is all to say that we're sorry we are not moving forward with your application at this time and that, if you still will be at John Jay in [the next year], we encourage you to reapply. We wish you the best of luck in your time at John Jay and thank you for your interest in the [name redacted].



[A bunch of very qualified professors who did not like me]


I applied to the same program the next year and got virtually the same letter. I applied, was interviewed, and rejected twice. Two times I was rejected. By the same organization. I was rejected twice by them. Rejected. Twice.


Maybe I lied a little earlier. Sometimes a "no" at John Jay really does mean "no."


Dealing With Rejection


Rejection feels like losing. I hate to lose. Losing makes me sick. But one of my advisors once told us that yes, her resume was impressive and she had a bunch of things on it. But if we'd seen how many programs she'd been rejected from over the years, we'd have a completely different perspective on what success looks like.


Getting into programs at school is like auditioning. You might not always get the part, even if you have a pretty good audition. Sometimes you're just not right for the part. I wrote an application I was incredibly proud of for a program, and sat with them for an interview. I must have had it's in the bag written all over my face, because the directors told me outright they were concerned that I was doing too much stuff around the school and that they were worried I wouldn't be able to commit fully to the program. (That was a snap judgment of theirs. I commit to everything I do.) Nothing I could have said would have persuaded them to think otherwise. What could I do? The odds were stacked up against me before I'd even walked into the room.


I used take rejection very personally. They don't like me. I'm not good enough. I'm never going to apply for anything ever again. It's way easier to wallow in the thought of "they don't like me" than it is to apply to other stuff. Wallowing feels excellent, and you are allowed to wallow for a little while.


I don't do that anymore; take rejection so personally, that is. (I, like you, am allowed an occasional wallow.) It took some practice, but I got better at being comfortable with not being the right fit for things. Sometimes I just wasn't. I applied for a particular lab that focused on false confessions, but the lab was experimental and my work is largely clinical. Our interests clashed, and no amount of forcing on my part would have made me perfect for that lab. Instead I found someone who looked at false confessions from a clinical perspective.


This rejection didn't hurt like it has hurt me in the past. It inspired me to find a lab that fit me better. It was so much easier to have a rejection under my belt knowing that the program didn't fit me and that I wouldn't fit it, and that other things would fit me better than thinking "well, they must not like me." Very rarely does someone outright not like you. (Even when it feels that way, @The Program That Rejected Me Twice.)


You've been rejected. It's time to stop wallowing. Now you can add "rejection" to your list of experiences. That's the kind of stuff that builds character - didn't you know?



Stuff includes scholarships, fellowships, psych labs, special programs...anything you can get rejected from. I've been rejected from it all.

** We hadn't even started the work yet, so while I wasn't technically in it, the rejection still stung quite a bit.

DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.
DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.