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Dear Rejection Letter

Dear Rejection Letter
This message is to high schoolers to assure them that their worth is not defined by what schools they get into, but by the effort they put into things they care about.

Dear Rejection Letter,

I regret to inform you that it wasn’t worth it. The hours spent on contriving intriguing narratives of myself to appeal to your brutal standards of qualification. Were my witty remarks not quick enough? Were my unique interests too niche? I have shed too many tears and pulled out too many hairs over my computer keyboard to not see “Congratulations!” at the top of my screen. All of us did. Even the ones who did get in.

My father was shocked, and my friends rushed to convince me that everything would be okay. “I know, I know,” I assured them. It didn’t feel like a big deal at the time. In a deeper sense, it felt as if I were watching a burning building but experiencing no emotion. I was watching floods blast through the windows, but found myself in a blank stillness; disappointment, confusion, and apathy to dull it all away. Without a convincing face to show the people around me that I was truly “okay”, I just wanted to go to bed. Everything I had was emptied in pursuit of what now looked like a dead-end journey.

Secretly, everything depended on that admissions letter. No matter how many times I told myself that any school would do, I only had one ultimate goal. All the scenarios I played in my head of walking through the halls, sitting in class, and even the view I would see, were all attached to one place. When applicants click the “view status update” button, we surrender that reality to a faceless institution covered in mystique. Are these images ours to keep or yours to add to the shrinking acceptance ratios on U.S. News? If they are yours, take them, please take them.

I worked just as hard for you, rejection letter, as I did for your alternative. Off of the backs of unpaid bills of my parents, I gave all I had for you. What now, when the thousands of words have left my fingertips and the sleepless nights have passed? I still have myself. My accomplishments. My drive to succeed not by my own measures, nor the ones of institutions who don’t know me.

The only lesson your school will ever teach me is that even if games are made to be lost, they ought to be played. I will write the essays and share my story as it evolves. Achievement or brutal loss, each step forges my path. Never waiting for a happenstance, but wacking the weeds towards the person I should be. Each change in direction builds momentum to a success that can’t be granted by a single letter.

I wish myself the best on my educational journey,


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