I can’t get into graduate school.
Well, it’s not that I can’t get into graduate school, it’s that I didn’t get into graduate school. Again. For the third year in a row. And I gotta be honest, it kinda sucks. But that’s life.
Here’s what happened this year.
I applied for a Masters in Social Work this fall, choosing the University of Toronto (UofT) as my only option because it’s the only school in Southern Ontario that offers what I am interested in learning. UofT’s Masters of Social Work program offers a mental health specialization in which there is a focus on learning to practice counselling and therapy, which fits exactly into what I want to do.
So, I decided to submit an application.
I worked hard on it. I got great references. I put together what I thought was a great application. And I submitted with confidence–while my grades aren’t the best, I have a lot of practical experience, even more lived-experience, and a demonstrated passion towards mental health, community work, and helping people become better people.
Then I waited.
And for months, I fielded the question of, “did you hear back from UofT yet?” from friends, coworkers, mentors, mentees, supervisors, colleagues, and of course, family members. And for months I didn’t have an answer to that question. Now I do.
I didn’t get in.
The good news is that I wasn’t outright rejected either. I, instead, was wait-listed, and notified that I applied during a year in which there were a lot of great applications, but that I was not one of the 140 people selected into the program. That’s like when a girl tells you that while she thinks you’re a great guy, she doesn’t like you in that way. UofT apparently doesn’t like me in that way. Which leaves me going through a gamut of emotions as I’m slightly crushed (though I’m not as crushed as I was when I was in grade 12 when I asked out Renatta after lunch in the library and she turned me down…and my knees buckled…and I was devastated…and the librarian who was eyewitness to my heart shattering spoke sympathetic and consoling words to me…and my friends Emran and Matthew made fun of me for a week afterward…and I skipped class to play the angriest game of basketball I ever played in my life, as angry as Motaw in the movie Above The Rim), but not that crushed. However, I am going through the motions. This is what I’m feeling right now.
And Anger. Mostly anger.
While that may sound unhealthy, to be as angry as I am right now (on a scale of 1-10 I’d put myself at an 8, maybe even a 9), I don’t see it that way. I’ve never been one to turn my anger inwardly, torturing myself, allowing my anger to become insidious, eroding my well-being from the inside out. I’ve also never been the type to externalize my anger, taking it out on other people with harsh words, irritability, or violence. Instead, I’ve always been the type to turn anger into motivation. I’ve faced a tremendous amount of disappointment in my life. I’ve probably dealt with fifty disappointments for every success I’ve ever experienced. So, I’m fairly used to disappointment, and that’s why I know how to handle the anger that comes with it.
Yes, with this most recent disappointment there are tiny voices in my head that whisper, “maybe you’re not good enough,” but I know that those voices are wrong. I know that I am good enough, even if I haven’t succeeded yet, even if I’m not good enough yet. So, I will keep trying, I will keep thinking, and I will keep strategizing because I know I can get into graduate school, I know that I am good enough.
That’s why this rejection, this disappointment isn’t a failure. No, instead it’s something else, something that I will use to drive me forward with more passion, determination, and intelligence than I had before. This rejection is not a failure.