Mattie’s Musings: A Silent Scream and the Modern American Dream

My application probably included thousands of words. With the essays, explanations and information, I sent them thousands of words. They sent me back a couple hundred words. But only four of them mattered.

“I am very sorry.”

It only took four words for me to know that I could no longer linger in the giddy hopefulness of acceptance, but that I was now inside the gloomy reality I had feared.

On Friday, Dec. 8, I received my first college rejection letter.

There are an infinite number of things that run through the mind of someone who just got rejected. It’s hard to find room to breathe amidst the conflicting thoughts and exceedingly heavy feeling of thousands of my words burning into waste. Reading my four word rejection letter, I was the one who was very sorry. I was sorry that I wasn’t accepted, that something in my application must have not been good enough, that all the expectations I had built for myself and that I thought the world built for me turned into pure mockery.

As I think back to sitting at the computer screen, sobbing, I am not ashamed to admit that I felt sorry for myself.

It seems that everyone wants to snap you out of it, reciting that this doesn’t define you, that you’re still an amazing person, that it just wasn’t meant to be. But the funny thing about rejection is that, during those precious first sobbing moments, nothing that anyone says is really going to make it feel any better.

That doesn’t mean that what they say isn’t true. It definitely is true. All the cliches, all the translations of it’s going to be okay: they’re all true. But it’s okay to feel sorry for yourself. It’s okay to mourn the thousands of words that were put to their grave by just four. You can close the page, delete the email, but you can’t erase the hurt in those first moments. Rejection is a part of high school; rejection is a part of life. And it hurts.

On Saturday, Dec. 9, the sun came up. As I was still in a dark pit of self-pity, I looked at the sun as an annoying intruder. I wanted nothing more than to stay in bed, close the blinds and mentally plan a trip to a deserted island.

But, the world doesn’t allow for us to wallow forever. It takes time, but the gloomy reality is only temporary. There will be more schools, more rejection letters, more acceptance letters (I hope), more milestones leading toward the future.

Because that’s all we can think toward, the future. I can’t go back and change my application, or join another club, or retake the SAT. I had to accept that I can’t go back. But now I realize that I wouldn’t go back even if I could.

Changing the little things wouldn’t change the reality of who I am. The representation of myself in the format of an application was as true as it could’ve been, and I am not willing to change myself and my thousands of words to change the four words that a singular college sends back. It’s not the only college in the world.

So it’s time to say goodbye to the gloom, and welcome back the excitement for what’s coming. There are good things coming.