This morning, I woke up to an exciting email from my university. The subject line read “Miami University SAHE Admission Letter” and I felt a small rush of adrenaline flood my system. Even thought I’d had a top three list of grad programs for some time, I had always (subconsciously) imagined myself continuing my education at Miami. Yesterday, I confided in my therapist about my desire to remain at my current institution. I listed all of the reasons I loved Miami and became quite emotional with nostalgia.
I clicked on the email. This was it. Decision made. I was going to Miami. The email read, “Enclosed is a letter regarding your admission from the Student Affairs in Higher Education (SAHE) Director of Graduate Studies.” I clicked on the attachment, excited to see an acceptance letter or invitation to interview. My eyes zeroed in on one sentence and my heart dropped.
“[…] your application is currently on our wait list for admission.”
I re-read the sentence, then examined the letter from top to bottom. This wasn’t happening. I stared blankly at the email, temporarily void of emotion.
The tears came quickly and I sobbed quietly into my bedsheets, hoping my roommates weren’t around to hear me. I eyed a spot on my wall and imagined driving my fist into it, but realized the sudden depletion of my energy and continued to lay on my bed. But how? I’d done everything right.
I reviewed everything I’d done during my undergraduate career, both academically and co-cirricularly – and wondered how it hadn’t been enough. What did the other applicants have that I didn’t? Where had I gone wrong?
Last night, I prayed in the shower that I would get an interview with Miami: just a chance to meet in person and let them see who I was and what I had to offer. Maybe God had other plans.
And so there was grief: The phenomenon that occurs when we have our sights so firmly set on one outcome and things go the opposite way. I cried some more.
After texting my former RA supervisor, looking for reassurance, I realized I was not ready for that just yet; I’d leapt too quickly toward healing the wound and finding the sliver lining. I needed to hurt. I needed to let all the “hows” and the “whys” and the “this-isn’t-fairs” come and go. I needed to let the blow ripple through my body in its entirety. Then I could look for reassurance.
I thought back to a conversation I’d had over coffee with the Vice President of Student Affairs at my university last semester: she had also been waitlisted. The VP of Student Affairs was waitlisted from her master’s program and, in addition to an impressive resume of past experience, now holds the highest divisional position.
I’m not done grieving (or even close to being done, for that matter), but I’m feeling ambitious as all hell. Having been accepting to Wright State and Eastern Michigan, I know I’m going to graduate school and I’m going to put everything I have into being the best Student Affairs professional I can be.
Maybe several years down the road, I’ll tell an undergrad over coffee about the time I was waitlisted and how it wasn’t the end of my career.