Today I received my second rejection letter from grad school. Grad school had always been idea in the back of my mind, so I decided to apply to two Creative Writing MFA programs. Although I knew my chances were slim (the acceptance rate is 1% – only 6 students were admitted), I still had hope that I would be the 1% that got in. Alas, something I really, truly wanted didn’t happen. C’est la vie. The first rejection letter, which I received two weeks ago, really hurt but the second one didn’t. In fact, it actually made me feel good. Well, after the initial “f*ck grad school, what a huge waste of time that would have been, creative writing programs are dumb” feeling wore off. I get to stay at my job and keep working for an amazing company, and I don’t have to try to persuade my boyfriend to move to the middle of nowhere for two years. That’s not all, I’m also taking away three important things:
It redirected my focus
Before I applied to grad school I was feeling very overwhelmed. Everything in my life seemed to make me feel frustrated, overwhelmed, and lost. I felt like I was rudderless and couldn’t focus my energy on one thing I actually wanted. When the idea of grad school popped into my mind, it allowed me to concentrate on the one thing I really want to do but had lost sight of; write a book. If I ever felt stressed from work or city life (which was often), I thought about grad school and living in a completely different place. Even though I’m not going to grad school or moving (at least not any time soon), that ‘mental break’ thinking about grad school gave me was well worth the whole process.
I took the GRE
I’m sure most people look at this as a horrific experience I had to endure with no reward, but I don’t see it that way. Was the GRE unpleasant? Hell yeah – I had to sit in a room for four hours and answer questions that in no way, shape, or form tested my knowledge, but rather tested my ability to study for the GRE. Even though that SUCKED, something pretty great happened from the experience; I learned I can still do math.
That may sound insignificant or stupid, but I legitimately thought I no longer knew how to do math (minus addition and subtraction). My math scores were exponentially higher than I anticipated as were my writing scores (although I wasn’t too surprised with my high essay score – I mean, come on). It felt really good to know that my brain has not melted over the past 6 years since I last took a test.
I started writing something important
Although I consider all of my writing important, I started writing something that could become the most significant thing I’ve ever written (fingers crossed); my book. For years I’ve known I wanted to write a book, but I didn’t know how I wanted to focus all of the millions of thoughts and ideas buzzing around my mind. Preparing a writing sample for grad school gave me the opportunity to organize, plan, and start the story that I’ve been dying to get out. So keep a look out for chapters or excerpts that may appear on this blog or one of my other blogs.
The schools were in Wisconsin and Wyoming so it looks like I’ll be staying on the east coast…for now at least. I actually really wanted to move to Madison, but after keeping a careful eye on their weather this past winter, perhaps it’s for the best that I won’t live somewhere where -25 is a realistic (and common) temperature.
If there’s anything you’ve ever wanted to try or secretly dreamt about doing, I highly suggest you give it a shot. Even if you don’t get it, the things you do get as a result of the process could lead to something even better.