"We regret to inform you" are the five worst words to hear in one sentence, followed closely by "hey, we need to talk".
I received a letter in the mail the other day that began "we regret to inform you". I wasn't shocked, but it still made me feel disappointed in myself. It was a rejection letter for the Masters in English program I had applied for at U of T. I knew applying for a highly competitive program, with few prerequisites, at the most prestigious university in the country was a long shot, which is why I wasn't holding my breath. But even still, when you see those words alongside your name you can't help but feel deflated.
Even after preparing and expecting rejection, saying to myself over and over again "don't get your hopes up!", when the actual letter of rejection arrived, I felt like someone had come and pushed the air right out of me.
I started questioning every area of my life.
If I'm not good enough for this program what makes me good enough for my job? What makes me good enough to deserve my friends and family? Why is my boyfriend even with me? What the hell am I actually good at? Because right at that moment it felt like nothing. Then, I started thinking about all of the people who had believed in me and congratulated me on applying. My parents (who place great importance on academia), my friends (who are always supportive no matter what), my colleagues (who are doing their Masters now) and my boyfriend (whose opinion I care about most of all). Thinking I'd disappointed all these people was even worse than thinking I wasn't good at anything.
Rejection and the words we use to express it are so powerful. They can take you from feeling self assured and satisfied one minute to doubting the love of your nearest and dearest the next.
My boyfriend, who had brought in the mail and was reading the letter with me, immediately tried to assuage my self doubt. He was proud of me for even applying, and reminded me that I could always try again if I wanted too. I decided that he was probably right, but I was still dreading telling my parents. I thought they were going to be immensely disappointed in me and ask their tried and true question "what can we do to make you try?". "The sooner I tell them, the sooner it will be over," I thought. So I called right away. The first to answer the phone was my dad, who echoed Boyfriend's sentiments. He then passed the phone to my mom, who said the same thing. I was starting to feel optimistic about this whole situation, but not 100%. I still had to let my Journalism professor and reference know the outcome. More fear of devastation and disappointment! Thankfully, he shared the same sentiments as everyone else, saying "on to the next adventure".
The message was unanimous: I'd had the courage to try something, and failure isn't the end of the world. Try, try again.
As I'm sure a lot of you are, I am my own worst critic. I demand the most from myself, and when I let myself down I convince myself that it's the worst thing that could possibly happen. This rejection letter and the support of my people made me realize that I have to stop doing that. I have to take more pride in myself, accept my failures, and try again.
So, if a Journalism grad with honours, a sweet job in communications and this blog won't be accepted by U of T this year, maybe she will by Ryerson next year *wink*.