Tag: rejection

To All the Young Women Never Cast as Clara

image circa 1890
image circa 1890

In a special installment of “My Real Life Modern Family,” writer Patrice Hutton reflects funnily and philosophically on childhood Christmases past.

‘Tis the season, the season in which we’re reminded of our first failure of womanhood: never being cast as Clara. We grow up and lean in while learning that we can’t have it all, but years ago, we faced our first trial of womanhood. We’d stalk the mailbox for letters, or push toward the cast list, to see that once again we’d been overlooked for the role of Clara.

College Acceptance Letters Arrive this Week


You can feel the excitement in the air: college acceptance letters are due April 1. Despite schools’ deadlines, many letters go out before April 1, so letters could be in mail boxes this week. Maybe even today!

It’s a decision that, once heard, can be thrilling or agonizing, but keep some perspective: the applicant is the same person whether he or she gets into his or her dream school or not. Bryn Mawr School Director of College Counseling Patty Whalen counsels her students with this important advice, sent to seniors in a letter earlier this week:

Some decisions will be disappointing and many will be exciting and filled with a world of new opportunities and adventures. Savor the good news, but don’t let the bad news drag you too far down. Remember — you hold a wealth of talent, intellect, abilities, and interests among you. The decision of a college admissions committee, positive or negative, is not a judgment on your life, and while it may indeed influence the next step in your journey, it is just that a next step on a lifelong journey of self.

Wise words.

Check out the YouTube video below of assorted reactions from Ivy Dreams. There’s a lot to be learned from the video for both parent and child.



Last Friday afternoon at 4 p.m., Vassar College accidentally sent email acceptance congratulations to 76 early admission applicants. A few hours later, the school realized it had made a mistake and sent another message apologizing and telling students only 46 students were intended to be accepted. Yesterday, the president of the college offered to reimburse the student their $65 application fee.

The $65 hardly seems much of a consolation prize in the highly charged atmosphere of college admissions. Some parents are calling for the school to admit the students anyway, says The New York Times. One family is considering legal action.

(When I told the tale to a lawyer friend, he quipped, “Legal action. Really. What’s that suit? Were your civil rights denied?”)

Who would want to attend a school that didn’t really want you as a member?


Heads Held High


Some nerves are raw.  Some tensions are running deep.  Upper school seniors are eating a lot of candy — to celebrate and commiserate over news received from colleges.  This is the season when results start to materialize.  The way they talk, or don’t talk, to each other about the process is so interesting to me.  Close friends share details—where they have applied, what their scores and grades are, how much they want one school over another, what their families can or can’t afford—but in general, these 17-year-olds are pretty cagey about how things are going with their college admissions.

I have heard that some kids are so cautious about keeping their secrets (where they have applied, what their scores and grades are, how much they want one school over another, what their families can or can’t afford), that they actually lie about where they have applied, just to take the heat off.  (Something along the lines of, “If I apply to Harvard, but tell everyone I only applied to community college, then no one will think less of me when I don’t get in to Harvard.”)  This is something that I can understand, but cannot defend.  I understand that it might be embarrassing to a 17-year-old who has pinned hopes and dreams to an acceptance to get a rejection. But the true worth of that young person is not reflected in the acceptance or rejection; nevertheless, it can be demonstrated on the day after results are received.

We have spoken to Emily, our senior, about what she will do the day after she gets her ED (early decision) letter from her first choice school.  We know how important it is for her, to her.  And we are as hopeful as any expectant parents that all will be good for our child.  But more than that, we want Emily to hold her head up either way — to take the news gracefully.  This is a tall order, but we think she is equal to it.  All it requires is actually going to school the next day (something she has said she may not want to do if her news is no), and smiling at people — being truthful and thoughtful toward others who have also received important news from their first-choice schools.  If she receives good news, she can share it happily with those who will celebrate with her.  And if it is disappointing news, those same people would likely show her the compassion they would hope for if the shoe were on the other foot.  

We have to convince these kids, because it is true, that there is no shame in a letter of rejection! The admissions game is such an arbitrary process, and the outcome is frequently one part applicant, one part luck.  College admissions are not a measure of true value — rather, it’s more like a high-risk game of darts.  But bull’s-eye or not, our hope for our daughter, and her friends, is that they show up the day after their letters, heads held high, knowing that they are the same great people they were before these colleges ever heard their names.        

Breakup Badge: Rejection’s an Accomplishment?


Dear Sara,

The same pattern keeps repeating. I meet someone online, we spend weeks or months talking. We talk on the phone, we email, we Skype — he tells me how awesome I am, how I’m just what he’s looking for. We go on one date, maybe two, and I never hear from him again. I’m starting to take this personally. How can I know what I’m doing wrong when these guys won’t tell me why they suddenly lose all interest?

Here’s the thing about online dating: The actual dating isn’t supposed to happen online. It can, if both parties are really good at writing or some other form of remote communication, but ultimately there is NO reason why you ought to be waiting several weeks or months to meet
someone in person, unless he lives in a different state or continent. Meet him or her in a public place as soon as you feel safe enough to do so, yet curious enough to make it worth your time. Why? Because an ounce of experiential data is worth a terabyte of pictures, video, and email. If you’re already attached to someone you haven’t met, chances are you’ve waited too long, and both of you are setting yourselves up for some sort of delayed disappointment. (Unless, of course, you share the mutual chemistry you hope for.)

There is more to meeting in person than simply verifying that a person looks like their pictures. So much, that we’ve only scratched the surface of the science behind it. Consider it nature’s overly complicated way of making sure genes are distributed widely. We have a population of seven billion now. I personally love being picky: The way a person holds themselves, the way they smell even when they are clean, etc. If you’ve ever rejected someone yourself, and I hope you have, you’ve got to give humanity the right to reject you as well, carte blanche. Physical attraction is important to all of us in different ways. We’re all affected by it, but we all translate it or describe it differently, in part because we all want different things at different times, and even the most self-aware person is still only half sure of what they want. In a sense, all dating is blind dating. We play chess with each other. We hide our faults — sometimes we’re hiding our best features. We reveal our strengths, strengths which we adore about ourselves, yet can easily turn others off. If you think about it, there is a certain romantic justice to the whole process. There are no algorithms yet powerful enough to make Person A love Person B.

Here’s hoping that you arm yourself in the future against false expectations by meeting more people, more often, but for now remember that rejection is something both males and females experience.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we culturally supported widespread constructive criticism between friends and lovers a little more than we do now? Absolutely. Miscommunication often kills perfectly good romances and friendships. Even when people give you a reason, it’s often not the real one. A lot of people with simple rude habits might improve if we told them about it. But for now, when it happens, let yourself be disappointed for one day, tell yourself it could be any little thing, try to shake it off, and focus on the next person the next day. That said, it can be extra harsh when mysterious rejection happens to anyone in succession. Remember: Anyone who doesn’t want to invest in the whole person isn’t worth the time to mourn too deeply. As Marilyn
Monroe said, “If you can’t handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best.”

Think of the painful experience as a specific Scout badge on the sash of dating. And think of it that way consciously as a method of recovering: Anything worth having is worth enduring pain to achieve, right? Rejection is a kind of an accomplishment. This accomplishment makes you more sensitive to the plight of your friends who have been through similar experiences, hopefully makes you treat others more respectfully than you have been treated, and finally, makes you value what you have when you do eventually find it. (It also emboldens you to humanely reject another, when the gesture is called for.)

And don’t demonize the person who rejected you, because that’s just a hollow way of coping that won’t make you feel any better anyway. Give the person your whole-hearted forgiveness. Give the rejector the right to look for the person worth their time, and accept that for now, that’s not you. Rejection is only bitter if we curl ourselves tightly around it. If you let it go instead, your life will be more beautiful overall, and you will be happier, with or without a significant other.

Got dating questions? Email [email protected]