It’s true confession time on the blog this week, students. Yes, that’s right – I’m about to admit something to you that might come as a bit of a surprise. Here goes:
I feel your pain.
Empathy, I have long known, is one of the best qualities that we educational professionals can have when it comes to working with students and families through the heart-wrenching and emotional roller coaster that is the college admissions process. We counselors have to understand the life-altering decisions you’re grappling with, the idea that choosing one path will take your life in a particular direction and choosing another can take you on a journey that is the complete opposite.
(Side note: College applicants, the new Broadway musical If/Then will probably only heighten your nervousness, so don’t buy tickets until after your applications have been safely submitted.)
After the build up and anticipation, is it any wonder that at the moment of submission, the very moment when all you have to do is click the mouse and send the application, your heart leaps into your throat and suddenly your finger won’t work? Why is it so hard to finish the job?!
That’s the pain I share with you today, students – the fear that you will click “send” and all of your hard work will go off into cyberspace, only to come before a committee of decision-makers and be completely and utterly rejected. I understand the fear that what you’re offering isn’t up to a certain standard or won’t be what the committee is looking for.
In short, welcome to grown up life.
Of course, in my case, I’m no longer submitting college applications. (I love being a student, but two degrees are enough for me. Thank you.) Instead, I’m submitting speaking proposals, article pitches, and other similar pieces of my written work to event hosts, publishers, and other professional organizations and people. Part of being a successful professional in my industry involves being able to share what I know in both written and spoken form and if I don’t submit proposals to various groups that look for speakers and writers, then I can’t continue to move forward – and if I’m not moving forward, I can’t make a living.
So yes, it is life-altering to click the mouse on the “submit” button when the moment of truth arrives. Yes, you are putting yourself out there to potentially be rejected by people who hold positions of power. But do you know what else you’re doing?
You’re taking control of your life.
All through elementary, middle, and high school, life tends to happen to you in a lot of ways instead of the other way around. The laws (and your parents) state that you have to go to school and when you’re there, you’re told what to learn and how to behave. Everything is structured so that one thing leads to the next and so on. Even with riding, there are levels and divisions that you normally ascend as you gain proficiency – you go from short stirrup to juniors, from Training Level to First and Second, and from beginner novice to novice, and so on.
Going to college tends to change all of that. Suddenly, the slate is more blank than you remember it being and the possibilities begin to look infinite. Where you will apply to college is often the first wide open decision you will make in your young life and I don’t blame you for being a little nervous about it – or even more than a little nervous. But as someone who’s wrestled with the fear of rejection a lot over the course of my career, let me tell you this: Once you’ve summoned your courage and clicked that magical submit button the first time, you’ll find that it gets a little easier every time you need to do it. (Please note that I said “easier,” not easy. I sent off two written pieces last week and still struggled with that last click.)
Does rejection still sting? Absolutely. But success gets better with each and every occurrence. And if you don’t click “submit,” you’ll never experience either one.
(Want college application support from someone who understands where you’re coming from? Contact me.)