I play the piano, so I know what
rejection feels like. Ever since I was six, my parents have
entered me into annual competitions in hopes of one day
carrying home that six-foot high trophy to display for the
competitions were intense. Calling all Houston players in a
specific age group, we each played two pieces in front of a
board of judges. There were two rounds, then the performing
final open to all.
And I would walk each time
with tacks in my shoes and a butter churn in my stomach to
the bench, crack my cold clammy fingers, and pray, beg, plea
not to mess up.
And of course I did; year
after year, I saw the trophies given to someone else. Year
after year, I wasted an hour each day practicing for
something that was obviously not good enough.
The highest Iíve ever made in
those stupid competitions was third place. That was a year
ago, and my teacher told me that really, the first three
places all sounded the same.
Fast-forward to yesterday,
when a bunch of my peersí dreams were either made or broken.
D-day. The day ivy-leaguing universities gave out their
courteous rejection letters.
I was over at a friendís
house when she checked her status online. Before left
clicking on that mouse, I thought of the unexplainable
cruelty of the whole system. In a flash, in a neuron-firing
minute, her whole life was to be changed, to be made valid
by a highly valid college.
I heard her inhale, then
She didnít get in. Rejected.
But of course the letter said something painfully beautiful
like, weíve reviewed the decision intensely and made the
hardest choice of our lives to let your talented soul go.
And I guess she was stunned
because she didnít cry until hours later. She flashed back
to the past two years, working her butt off to climb up the
GPA ladder, squeezing the limits of her self-control to do
SAT questions on the weekends, volunteering, joining clubs,
all down the drain. What was the use?
For the first time, her life
was outside of her control. And as we lay on her floor
looking up at the crevices in the ceiling, she slowly
relaxed and gathered herself up again. Thereís always grad
school, and she will fight for it in college.
College decisions are
subjective, highly subjective and sometimes unexplainable.
The student with the perfect transcript may be rejected from
all the top schools while an imperfect other may be
But lifeís not over. College
is just the beginning, and to do well, to keep on trying is
all that matters. Though sometimes, lifeís hard work doesnít
always pay off, it is what it is, and the best thing to do
is just move on. The worst, would be to drown in fear of
rejection and not try again. Giving up would be to
deliberately never see the other side.
My third place trophy now
sits encased in the glass shelf downstairs. Did I deserve it
more than others? Maybe. Maybe not. Did I win it because I
put in more effort? I donít know. But none of that matters
because ten years of failure has hardened me into a