I remember it like I remember the lyrics to “What Dreams Are Made Of” from "The Lizzie McGuire Movie." It was March 27 and I couldn’t sleep because I knew it was the day I would find out whether or not I got into the University of Southern California.
I was in love with the California sun.
The glamour of LA.
The journalism program.
I loved all things USC and I bled the blood of a Trojan.
I imagined myself waking up, putting on my Ray Bans and walking with an iced coffee across a campus splattered with red and gold. I imagined myself as an upperclassman, living in LA and meeting Shonda Rhimes to discuss the latest episode of "Scandal."
I was riding high on the college application process. I applied to 11 schools and until March 27, I was undefeated. And getting into all of those schools was great, it really was, but USC was the only one that mattered. It was the only one that I dreamt about. Among my 10 acceptances was a school that was far more selective than USC, so I figured my acceptance was a given.
That morning, I woke up at 4 a.m. I was anxious, so I figured “Hey, why not check my portal?”
When I logged on, I was surprised to see a decision. It was 10 hours early. My hands shook as I clicked “Application Status” and then clicked “Application Decision Notification.”
When the page loaded, my windpipe closed. I felt like I was suffocating.
We have arrived at the end of our application review period, and I am sorry to say that we are unable to offer you a space in this year’s incoming class.”
I figured they must have made a mistake. I logged in and out at least 10 times and the rejection was still there and still reeked of insincerity.
(After some serious snooping on Twitter, I was able to find out that they simply copied last year’s rejection, but I’m sure they were “sorry.”)
I realized that it was time to accept it. It was over. I wasn’t going to USC. I had to let it go. And I wasn’t going to appeal and get rejected twice. Goodbye Shonda. Goodbye walks in the California sun. I needed to move on.
I started by owning up to the rejection. I posted it on Facebook, similar to how I posted my acceptances. Then I went on a USC cleanse. I threw out all of my USC gear. I blocked them on Twitter and Instagram (childish, I know). I covered my favorite pen, which happened to say “University of Southern California,” with White-Out. It was my way of rejecting them.
Through my rational and irrational rejections of USC, I began to feel a sense of liberation. I realized that I didn’t need them or any school in order to be successful. I needed hard work and motivation with just the right amount of crazy. Getting my rejection taught me that I didn’t need to attach my success to a school. Had I been accepted, I probably would have gone to USC and I would have attributed any success I had after graduation to my time there. However, there was something sobering about this rejection.
Beyond teaching me the importance of self-motivation, it taught me that I will not get everything I want in life. Things will not always go my way and that is okay. One rejection does not mean that the world will end in the apocalyptic horrors displayed in the movie, 2012. In fact, after my USC denial, I was able to focus on the positives of the other schools that did want me and I was able to fall in love with a new school that loved me as well.
My rejection by USC was just one of the many setbacks I will face in life and I know that experiencing rejection as a teenager will prepare me for the inevitable rejections I will experience throughout the course of my life.
And besides, I’m sure that I’ll find plenty of Wildcats at Northwestern University to obsess over "Scandal" with.
Lead Image Credit: Francesco Gallarotti