Let me guess. You think that getting rejected is a personal failure, and that everyone who did better than you is superior in every way. Maybe you even wonder how everyone seems so much smarter, more attractive and more athletic than you. You handle rejection all wrong when you think less of yourself. I’m here to tell you that being rejected was one of the best things that ever happened to me, because I guarantee you that you will face at least one major rejection in college.
And no, I’m not talking about a girl. I’m talking about everything else.
The extremely competitive culture at the University of Virginia unfortunately extends past just academics. All of the “good” clubs, the clubs where people announce their involvement five seconds after meeting you, involved an extremely rigorous application with resume drops and multiple rounds of interviews.
I really wanted to join UGuides, a particularly prestigious club at UVA that gives tours to prospective students. My own tour played a large role in convincing me to commit to UVA. To my surprise, the audition involved giving a 10-minute tour. I thought we would learn these things in the club! I needed to know these things already? Still, I studied up on the history of UVA, practiced a few good jokes and made sure I knew the layout by heart (and that I could walk backwards for the tour). Still, after all that practice, UGuides rejected me and offered constructive criticism on how to improve should I decide to audition next semester.
I started to notice a pattern. Everyone trying out for sports played varsity in high school. The business frat I rushed asked about my prior business experience… did working at Burger King last year count? The application for the University Programs Council, the club that planned university-wide events like concerts and carnivals, asked about prior-event planning experience. I always pictured college as a place where anything but rejection was possible, where you could reinvent yourself and do things you never even thought you were capable of.
I promise you that you don’t need to join some exclusive group to have a good time in college.
Plenty of cultural organizations, lifestyle groups and generally inclusive clubs exist. As long as you make an effort to socialize, get to know people and take risks, you won’t find yourself all alone. Besides, those pretentious clubs became the butt of every joke with my friends… although maybe it was because we were all rejected.
More importantly, you can keep trying new things and reinventing yourself. It just won’t come as easy as my over-idealistic first year self envisioned. You either need some level of talent or a willingness to work really hard. After my first year, I finally joined a video journalism group. It allowed me to learn the basics of videography and editing and fell in love with the art of storytelling.
The following year, I became a humor columnist at the school newspaper, The Cav Daily. I now head the whole humor section. This allowed me to discover how to write on a schedule, start my own blog for short stories and dare to dream of being an author one day. I also got pretty involved with volunteering, and discovered the joy of helping people less fortunate than me. It is something that anyone can do!
Oh, and remember when I told you this didn’t involve a girl? Well, I lied.
This situation is a little different. You can’t will someone into being attracted to you and you can’t try really hard to make someone like you by changing yourself. As hard as it is, this is the sort of rejection you should not take personally, or even see as a loss. Why would you want a relationship with someone who doesn’t appreciate you for you? Being alone is better than being with the wrong person.
You might not look back at college as the best four years of your life, but it is definitely a memorable time. You will make new friends, try new things, fail, succeed, laugh and cry. Just don’t let yourself cry over some pretentious club that works for the university for free, or for some girl who thinks hating everyone is a personality trait.
And hey, at least you get a good laugh out of it!