Dealing with Rejection at Vanderbilt
As a prospective student at Vanderbilt (or even someone who’s been here awhile), it can often seem as if everyone here is perfect: amazing grades, leadership roles in many different organizations, and successful in almost everything they do. Some people, myself included, have even come to expect favorable outcomes because we haven’t had to deal with very much rejection or failure in the past. But no one can be perfect, and that’s a hard lesson I had to learn this weekend as I was placed in the Alternate pool to be a Resident Adviser for next year. Although being an RA was something my heart was really set on (and there’s still a chance I can get the position), I’ve begun to come up with some tips for anyone else who happens to find themselves in a similar situation. With that said, read on for my advice about dealing with rejection at Vanderbilt. Or anywhere else, for that matter!
Always have a good backup plan
In life, nothing will be handed to you on a silver platter. Especially not at Vandy, where most of your peers are amazingly talented and accomplished. But don’t let that get you down: there are so many opportunities to get involved and succeed here. Over the course of my time in college so far, I’ve learned that it’s best to anticipate rejection, so if you get the job/position/award, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. This lesson came along with a few mistakes, though! As I was looking at where I wanted to get involved for next year, I knew that I wanted to have a role where I could work with first-years on the front lines–either as a Resident Advisor on Commons or as a VUCeptor (a mentor who works with first-years to help them get acclimated to life at Vanderbilt). Since you’re only allowed to be one and not both, I decided to only apply to work in Residential Life. Looking back, I realize that I should have given both applications a try, just in case one of them didn’t work out. But at least I know for next time! And I’m so glad I have a great backup plan for sophomore living arrangements… I’m in a group with some of the closest friends I’ve made this year. :)
Don’t take your loss personally– it happens to everyone!
One of my favorite things about the culture at Vanderbilt is the level of support provided by the community and the administration. I know that I can talk to my friends about anything, and they would understand and be able to help me feel a lot better (and I would do the same for them)! Even my friends who got the RA position have been so considerate of my feelings and have really helped me see the silver lining. One of my favorite initiatives here is the Vanderbilt IMPerfection Project, which advocates for a healthy mindset among the student body. They host amazing ‘Student Speak-Out’ panels to remind everyone that no one at Vandy can be perfect all the time.
Reflect on what you could have done differently (but not too much)
One of the best ways to heal from rejection is to think about what you can do next time to improve. By looking at your situation in the context of the future and not the past, you’ll be able to learn from your mistakes and gain a unique insight that you wouldn’t have had otherwise. Trying to find out what went wrong is a natural human response to have; pretty much everyone has asked themselves, ‘Where did I mess up?’ after they don’t get the result they wanted. (I’m not denying that I did the same thing after I found out I was in the RA Alternate pool!) But after those initial questions and self-doubt, try to shift your mind to what you gained from the experience. Although I may not have gotten the position yet, I did learn some really helpful tips about mindful programming and effective mentoring from my interviewers in the one-on-one portion of the process. Also, don’t dwell too much on your own mistakes! Thinking too hard about what could have been will only make your recovery process more difficult.
I hope these tips will help you guys, whether you’re at Vanderbilt or anywhere else. Remember to take care of yourselves!
If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I really want to hear what’s on your mind!!