“Magic for Everybody” by Sam Phillips (and some random thoughts on rejection and why it hurts)

Today, the PhD application quest moved into stage two: hearing back. I received my first notification. It was a rejection. I expected it to be a rejection. I still spent almost all day vacillating between devastation and anxiety about my other applications. Because, suddenly that abstract possibility that I would fail, across the board, became real.

But even that sudden onslaught of anxiety wasn’t the worst part. The worst part was knowing that that pool of endless possibility I reveled in during applications–it’s not so endless anymore.

At the risk of sounding overly sentimental and, for lack of a more precise term, woo-woo, each of those applications represented a dream of mine, a possible future that my SO and myself might get to experience. Now, this particular future is off the table.

It’s a bit…disorienting.

My lovely friends and family have all reminded me that I’ll end up where I’m supposed to be, in the department that is a great fit for me. They’ve reminded me that this process is random. Yes, some of it depends on my qualifications, interests, etc., but just as much depends on which faculty get to take on new grad students this year, which departments are just taking students from their M.A. programs, which departments secretly prefer to take B.A.s over M.A.s, etc.

And I know that they’re right. Tomorrow, I will go back to being logical about the process and its similarity to the lottery–or even The Hunger Games. But today–today, one of my futures died. And I’m in mourning. So, I’m consoling myself with Sam Phillips songs (like this lovely selection), working on one of my other dreams–my mystery novel, and trying to remind myself that there’s magic for everybody.

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