Being rejected by your dream college or conservatory will obviously lead to some unpleasant emotions. Now, my situation is likely not very similar to most others, as I already had a pretty good idea that I wasn’t getting in after… like, two measures into my piece. As soon as I walked out of the audition room, I literally went into the second floor bathroom to cry. Like, ugly crying. Like, before my audition date, I can honestly say that only about five or six people had ever seen me cry; now, that number is probably closer to thirty if we’re being honest. And then after crying in there, I went down to the student lounge in the basement (which only current BW students really know about, so none of the other auditioning students were in the room, and I was by myself for awhile) to silently cry. I got to pet a dog, so I ended up semi-okay after awhile, but things were rough.
I got most of the crying out of the way on that day. When I actually got my admission decision, I was on Spring Break (as you might imagine, my break was kinda ruined) and I was about to take a break at work. I shouldn’t have even been on my phone at the time, but when I saw an e-mail with the subject “Your BW Conservatory Admission Decision” with the first line being “Dear Hope, thank you…” I already knew what it was about to say. I ended up reading the rest of the e-mail in the employee bathroom.
That’s what I remember thinking after I finished reading. That familiar sinking feeling in the chest and watering of the eyes hit me like a freight train.
Now, I wasn’t actually supposed to be on break anymore (yes, I went over the fifteen-minute time limit… I was grieving, okay?), so I told myself I could cry about it later, but for now I had some books to shelve. Even worse? Well, not much worse, and actually not worse at all, but still pretty bad? I made plans for later. So, not only could I not cry at work, but I had to go meet up with three of my friends and pretend I was okay.
I ended up not pretending I was okay. I texted one of them beforehand, straight up saying, “I just got the official rejection letter, so if I seem off today, that’s gonna be why.” Also, while I was there (trying to have a good time and make fun of STEM majors), one of the friends asked me about it. I tried to not talk about music at all, but I think I might have slipped up and made a self-deprecating joke about my abilities. This friend goes to BW as a National Security major, and had tried to convince me that I didn’t do as bad as I thought I did, and probably got in (little did she know that I was being realistic– I knew) until I said, “No, like I actually got the e-mail today. It’s official.”
I could tell everyone in the room felt a little awkward about the situation (I mean, what do you say? “That’s rough, buddy”?), but I think the subject got changed somehow.
Long story short, I never actually had the time to cry about it. But I’m glad I didn’t cancel my plans (even though I really, really wanted to). Sometimes, the best way to deal with bad news is to surround yourself with friends who take your mind off of it. However, it is important to note: the way you deal with the initial shock sets the tone for your recovery.
It took me two months to “get over it.” And by getting over it, I mean not thinking about it every second of the day. I still think about it at least once or twice every day, even though I’m in at Cleveland State. If I had simply allowed myself to be sad for awhile, the healing process might have accelerated. Yeah, the facade I tried to put up didn’t fool my friends at all, but I still feel like I put a cap on my emotions. As a result, the admission decision kept nagging at me for weeks until I was nearly driven to insanity.
By the time April arrived, I was expected to be over it, or at least that was what I expected of myself. I felt like a nuisance by talking about it with others, especially when talking to non-musicians (which, only one or two of my close friends are musicians; only one is actually working towards a B.M./B.M.E.). I even considered talking to a therapist at one point, but that ended up not happening for some stupid reason (I may not be a talented musician, but I am talented at avoiding conversations and society in general). I just felt like I was stuck in some never-ending cycle of emotions, and I never fully dealt with any of them. I even began to have these weird things during choir when I couldn’t sing– I was always slightly hyperventilating and on the verge of fainting, my singing being like, “Si…cu-u-t ce-e-rvu-u-s de-e-si de-erat ad fo-o-o-o-ntes.” And all of this, I believe, was caused by hiding from my emotions.
I tried to power through it, acting like I wasn’t hurt at all. In reality, I went through one of the most devastating things in my life. I mean, I have been to a few funerals for loved ones. So that was worse. But this? My entire existence revolved around the arts. Musical theatre, creative writing, guitar, singing, culinary art, voiceover– it was my passion. Being told that I actually sucked hurt, even if I knew it wasn’t my best performance. Shockingly, self-deprecating jokes didn’t make me feel any better, either.
So, what is the best way to deal with the initial shock?
The best way to deal with it is to acknowledge what happened, and understand that your feelings, whatever they may be, are valid. The main thing that held me back was the feeling that I shouldn’t be hurt. That what happened was minor, so why was I so upset about it? There are people who are victimized by crime, who have faced failed relationships and marriages, who have failed out of college, and I was sad about this?
Yes, there are other issues in the world. But yours matters, too. Give yourself some time to be upset, and when you’re ready, get back out there.