So I called my mom and asked if she would open it with me over the phone, which she happily did. Turns out it was a big, fat "NO! We don't want you. Sorry, best of luck." I didn't even make the wait list.
My heart deflated. For several hours, I was so upset I wanted to die. I moped around work, not making eye contact with anyone and contemplated my future in retail and one-room efficiencies until I drank myself to death. I silently fumed and wondered why I never get anything I want, ever, and why everything in the whole world has to be so goddamn hard, and why can't anything ever just be easy? Just once?
But once I got my moping out of my system I faced some reality. One of which is that if I was really honest with myself, I had some serious doubts that Wright was really the place for me. Secondly, doctorate programs are notoriously competitive, fickle and esoteric. Thirdly, I was more angry at myself for not applying to more schools and putting all my eggs in 2 baskets. Fourth, I think I was less upset at not getting in than I was at the prospect of having to be stuck in Austin for another year, and not only that, having to go through all the trouble and expense of applying to more schools.
But I have one more phone interview on Tuesday with Pacific, which was my #1 choice anyway. And the idea of living in Portland is far more appealing to me than the idea of living in Berkeley anyway.
But if I bomb that, then yes, Austin, you have me for another year. Lucky you. And truthfully, it wouldn't kill me to take a year off and just work and try to save some money. In fact, I've already started applying to full-time jobs. Just in case.
There is some degree of humility involved in all of this, though. I remember when I first started therapy, I told my therapist I wanted to go to grad school at Harvard (who the fuck was I kidding....), and of course he saw right through me and knew that I didn't really want to go to grad school at Harvard, I just wanted the validation. And for what? Because in most circles, your educational background is what earns you respect. If I'm still kicking myself for not at least trying to go to Sarah Lawrence, or Vassar, or Brown, or NYU, or wherever, as an undergraduate, well then by god, it's important to me to go to good schools as an adult. I know it's silly, but getting rejected by schools feels to me like being denied admission to exclusive clubs, even after the other members of the club went so far out of their way to make you feel like you belonged, but then shut the door in your face.
Interestingly enough, a Since You Asked column in Salon last week dealt with this very topic, and I think Cary is even more cynical about it than I am:
The Ivy League scions of empire whom you so admire will leave you standing in the snow by the side of the road when the fun is over. You will think there must have been some misunderstanding. But there was no misunderstanding. The car was full of other Ivy Leaguers so they left you in the snow by the side of the road ... like a slave, or a nanny, or a field hand.
Sometimes I just look back at my life and see nothing but failure. Failure to go to the right school; failed job attempts; failed and disastrous relationships; bad credit problems; totally fucking up the only one or two things in my life that I've ever found fulfilling; falling far short of my own (not unreasonable) educational goals while finishing school (i.e., not getting the grades I feel like I should have gotten).
And not getting into the schools I want to go to feels like one more notch on that bedpost of disappointment.
I know I'm being hyperbolic, and as my mom and a wonderful friend both told me last night, it just means that the real, correct decision has yet to present itself, and eventually, I'll be really thankful I didn't get in to Wright. I don't really believe all that mumbo-jumbo about fate, because it implies some kind of universal control over my life of which I'm unaware and that the entire universe isn't just totally random and meaningless, but it sounds nice. And I know I'll end up somewhere, eventually (if not Pacific, then somewhere else next year), and I'll be happy there.
But, still, I have to admit: the rejection stings. And not the least because I know I'm going to be so good at this. It's just a matter of convincing other people of that.