The first time I was rejected from anything was when I applied to Ivy League schools for undergraduate school. That didn’t sting so bad because I wasn’t necessarily sold on the idea of an Ivy League education. So it wasn’t until I applied to graduate school that I first felt the horrible, pain-wracking feeling of “rejection.”
See, growing up I was pretty good at everything. I was one of the first one’s picked in sports. I was smart and a hard worker in school, so people wanted to be my partner on group projects. I got into every club or organization that I wanted, and was often asked before I even applied. I lived a fairly privileged life, and I knew it. It seemed that each time I was accepted into a new group, organization, club, sports team, or college, it just made me feel a little more perfect, something that I did not always realize I was trying to attain.
My last year of college came around and I realized I wanted to be a published novelist, but I knew I needed training and classes to improve on my writing skills. So I applied for a MFA Creative Writing program. I think I applied to about 20 schools all across the United States. The applications were rigorous and cost a hefty sum of money, but if I could just get into two or three schools, it would be so worth it.
My acceptance luck seemed to run out around this time, because I was rejected from every single program. It was heartbreaking. I had a 4.0 GPA in college and graduated number one in my class. Why was I rejected? I thought I was a decent writer, but apparently I wasn’t good enough.
Like anyone who has been rejected, it’s the worst feeling no matter the situation. Perhaps, even more so because I was a grown adult by this time who had never been rejected before and didn’t exactly know how to deal with it. I had a semester left until I graduated with no other plans besides graduate school. Now what was I to do? Those rejection letters were like a knife to this pretty picture of perfection that I had created about myself in my mind, and it just kept stabbing and stabbing and stabbing.
And then something really crazy happened. I was admitted into the MA English program at the University of Central Oklahoma. Notice, I said, “MA” not “MFA.” The MA was just a regular old Master’s degree with a focus on Creative Writing. I remembered applying for the MFA program at UCO, so I wasn’t sure why I got an acceptance letter for the MA program. So I called the university.
The woman I spoke with on the phone told me that, no, I had applied for the MA program. I argued back saying that I specifically remember applying for the MFA, and I remember because their system was super confusing and I double-checked to make sure it was the MFA program. We argued back and forth and I learned that, well, I couldn’t get into the MFA program. I was in the MA program and did I want it or not?
No, I didn’t really want it, but I would take it.
And it was probably the best thing that I ever did.
I started the MA program in the fall of 2011, and by the spring semester of 2012, I was in the MFA program. I took a few creative writing classes, English classes, and I reapplied for the MFA program, and somehow, someway, they accepted me. And thank God they did!
I was recently reminded of this experience from a writer friend who is currently awaiting her MFA acceptance letters, and I’m glad I did.
Since 2011, I’ve been rejected quite a few times. I’ve had my short stories rejected from many magazines, my novel rejected by literary agents, my blogs rejected from websites, and my job applications rejected by many companies. On the other hand, I’ve been published my many online magazines, created my own blogazine, and have had the opportunity to work with amazing clients now that I’m a full-time, work-from-home, set-my-own-hours freelance writer. If my experience with being rejected by MFA graduate school programs taught me anything is that rejection sometimes has a funny way of steering you in the right direction.
Looking back now I realized that I needed to be rejected – badly – in some part of my life. Yes, rejection hurts but with it you are faced with a decision – do I sit here and cry and just give up or do I go out there and refuse the rejection and find my own acceptance? I chose the latter. And it worked for me. That first rejection prepared me for future rejections that came my way. Now, when I’m rejected, I just say, “You know what? That’s cool. Okay, fine. No worries. I’ll just find a different path to get where I’m trying to go.” And I do.
Rejection isn’t the end of my story. It’s just a great plot twist for this heroine to battle, overcome, and move past to get to my happy ending.