I was rejected by the School of Visual Arts earlier this month.
Many of you will be wondering what the big deal is about being rejected? I mean, when you’re 31, you get used to rejection, after all, right? Well, I am used to rejection. At least it doesn’t phase me as much as it did once upon a time ago. So I hope that many of you can relate to what I’m talking about here.
Anyhow, the reason I bring up rejection is because many of you may remember me talking about applying to grad school at the end of January. You may also recall me rapidly piecing together a portfolio and gathering my letters of recommendation, working on a statement, and expediting my GWU transcript. I was enveloped in a system of excitement and guilt.
See, I knew going into the application process that I
a. couldn’t afford it and;
b. wasn’t ready
I KNEW that this program was going to be tough and it’s why I reached out to the Chair with questions about whether I would be a good candidate or not in the first place. Naturally, we got to know each other and became pals and so when I notified the Chair and the Program Manager that I was not intending to apply until after coming back from Japan, I was told that they understood, but they were hoping I’d be a student in the fall. Naturally, I felt bad and I applied. And I was excited to apply; I really got into the application process.
Alas, I didn’t get in and by the time I received my letter, I was relieved. I opened the letter, read it, folded it up, stuck it back in the envelope and told my roommate, “well, I didn’t get in to grad school and I feel okay.” I explained why I felt okay about it and how it lessens my options for what I will do in the next few months and post internship. I also felt okay because I wasn’t ready. Much like the time I told a guy I wasn’t really interested in, but enjoyed the relations, “you’re something shiny I can’t take my eyes off of”, I felt the same way about grad school.
Now, that’s not to say that I wasn’t excited or interested. For as much as the Chair and the Program Manager wooed me, I also actively participated in this wooing. I was interested. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I wanted it as much as they wanted me. But after a few months and new changes, I realized that my initial feelings about signing up for the program now is not what I want. It is also why I decided that if I don’t get a job offer leading up to the end of my internship, I’m okay with that too. I don’t wish for that to happen, but sometimes perspective clears up a lot. Of course, now I’m sitting on something that requires a decision sooner rather than later, but you know, I’m ready to move on to what I want to do.
Which means that I’m already one decision down a path. What follows is finding with more clarity what it is I want to pursue. After being rejected, I found something else, that is still along the lines of the program, but not quite, that I love and what could be a prime opportunity. I can’t get into all the details now, but I came across some information that made me realize that my passion is still definitely stationery and communication, but it’s also sustainable living and business. That’s right, my involvement at the old 9-to-5 was a great stepping stone and launch pad for my passion- my environmentalism and my love for educating the masses. And it folds into my business because they are the building block of S2 Stationery and Design.
When I think about my three-fold business plan, I realize that education is one end and communication is the other with the stationery in the middle and all three of them focus on sustainable and environmental awareness and activism for the betterment of not just the planet, but the human community. This path, this decision makes sense.
If I had to sum this up in two sentences, it would be what I said in response to the reasons for my rejection: “I know exactly what it is I believe in and can attain in my quest to do good and make a difference in more real, practical ways. After all, many people have done so before and will continue to do so outside of graduate school programs.” I strongly believe that. People have gone out and done amazing things without a degree in a trendy, but important topic, at an expensive school. This is not to discredit the school, and please note that I am not bitter at all, in fact, I commended their decision, I just know that the right education for me right now requires my own experience, not the experience in the class room.
So there, rejection. Thank you. I’m ready for the next half of this journey and the opportunities, people, stories, and lessons you share with me.