Monday, March 11, 2013

My Top 10 Rejection Moments

This is always an unnerving stretch of the application cycle.

Three weeks and counting before all regular admission decisions are delivered.

I find myself staring at our Naviance pie chart almost every hour.

50% of our admission decisions are in the books.

50% aren't.

That's a lot of unknown results.

That's a lot of finger nail biting.

Inevitably there will be a mixed bag of decisions.

Some of our kids will get good news.

Others disappointing news.

And still others the news that it's not over.

Wait listed. 

But for me, I find it easier to weep with those who weep, instead of rejoice with those who rejoice.

Perhaps it is because we tend to feel the sting of rejection longer than we do the euphoric prick of acceptance.

Just yesterday I got an email from NACAC that my proposal for a workshop at the upcoming national conference got rejected.

The email, of course, was gracious, but in the end, the committee concluded that my topic was "too basic for inclusion at the national conference level."  

So there was that.

I was one of the 150 or so that got their proposal waste bucketed.  

It stung for a bit, but then the mosquito bite disappeared.

But it got me feeling in a fresh and new way what some of my students and parents will feel in the next few weeks.

And it got me thinking-feeling back to other times that I have experienced rejection.

It's not that hard to pinpoint moments of rejection because it always comes with a visceral wallop - doesn't it?

If we're honest, our lives are fraught with rejection. 

Most of which we repress.

Or medicate.

Or project onto our kids.

So I've decided I'd "open a vein" and share some of my highest low points.

Call this my Top 10 Rejection Moments.

A cathartic exercise.

I've left out elementary and middle school.

I can't seem to remember that far back.

I have a few memories of awkward, insecure moments, like the time I couldn't lift the bench bar in the weight room, and my fellow 7th grade football teammates laughed at my scrawny frame.

Or the time I got my gym shorts and underwear pulled down by Zac Graves during a game of dodge ball.

Talk about humiliating.

Especially when you were a late bloomer puberty wise.   

So I'll just pick it up around 16 years old.

These are in no particular order.

Just as they surfaced from the subconscious nether regions.
  1. I was rejected by Lisa Freeland when I went in for a post prom date kiss my junior year.  
  2. I was slighted by my classmates as an incumbent class officer.  Kurt Anglebeck was elected Senior Class President and got to give the graduation speech.
  3. I was later rejected as a Senior Captain on the "Royal Court" for Homecoming.
  4. I was rejected by the Air Force Academy - offered a spot at the prep school instead
  5. I received almost 47 rejections from the colleges I had hoped would recruit me for basketball.
  6. I was rejected countless times as a freshman basketball player, driving into the paint, only to see my tear drop floater get swatted away by University of Illinois transfer, Marc Davidson, a 6'7" power forward with a haircut and physique like Drago's in Rocky IV.
  7. I spent an entire summer getting rejected on the phone as a "nurse recruiter specialist" (pretty much got fired after going 0-500).
  8. I had my co-manuscript of the memoir my wife and I wrote rejected by many publishers.
  9. I was rejected twice as a finalist for recent job openings. 
  10. I was initially rejected by the State Boards for my teaching license because I failed one of the English grammar exams.  ("I'm a story and ideas guy!)    
Looking back now, I realize that No, the sky wasn't really falling.  It just felt apocalyptic at the time.

And I also realize now that I had a lot of people around me - family, friends, coaches, teachers, colleagues - that helped absorb the sting, lick my wounds and move forward.

Life, indeed, is a communal effort.  The "I" needs the "we" to overcome those stretches on the journey that are fraught with disappointment.

And I also see now the silver lining in almost every one of those rejections.

Except maybe Lisa Freeland leaving me hanging on prom night.:)

Good, wonderful, didn't-see-coming things were just around the corner of the No's.

Yes's, in other words.

Big, surprising, beautiful, hopeful Yes's!

And it's those sunny Yes's on the other side of the dark, cloudy No's that give me comfort.

And a peace of mind as I move into this stormy spring season with my students.

All eventually will work out.

There will be a silver lining.

Just wait and see.