Application Process: The Art of Rejection

After enduring the college application process the word “application” can strike fear into anyone’s heart. The moment that hangs in the air when you get an email or letter in the mail with the words ‘yes’ or ‘no’ is both agonizing and euphoric. Despite hearing more no’s than yes’s in my career at Bryn Mawr I have to admit I am still a glutton for punishment. In my experience with the word “no” I have come to terms with what I call “The Stages of Rejection”.

The stages of rejection are broken down into six easy steps.


It’s here! I have received the letter for that important thing from that place I really want to go to!


Oh my good shenanigans… this is the letter for that important thing from that place you really want to go to. Should I open it? I’ll go get my friend to open it. No I’ll open it.


“We regret to inform you…” Huh. Well. Uh…


Forget them! I don’t need them. Whatever, screw you and your awesome perks! I don’t need you!


WAHHH. Why don’t they want me? WHYYYY?! **eats entire pizza**

6) Acceptance

Well that happened. My next application is due in a couple weeks time to get started.  

I have applied to over a hundred jobs, 15 grants, even a library card, and I have endured each of these stages of rejection. With each disapproval comes a little twinge of doubt and despair that can only happen with rejection. In order to combat this I always turn to one my favorite books, Other Peoples Rejection Letters by Bill Shapiro.

This book is an amazing compilation of, you guessed it, other people’s rejection letters. The relationship between this book and I isn’t completely based on schadenfreude. The compilation of letters range from children’s notes, book reviews, college letters, and more. It also tells you what happened after each recipient received the rejection letter.

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Each letter, whether it is comical or emotional, was a bump in the road for someone. Artist Arthur Gonzalez, whose rejection letters are scattered throughout the book, took the final stage of rejection (acceptance) to the next level. Tired of hearing “no” he transformed his letters into works of art, which were then transformed into the Art of Rejection Collection. The collection was finally accepted into a gallery. Although the pieces of art were originally never meant to be seen by the public eye, his numerous rejection letters never stopped him from continuing his craft.  

Every time I get a big fat “No”, “We regret to inform you”,”You were good, but not good enough”, and my favorite “You’re just too overqualified”, I read these letters and they remind me to keep trying. The only true failure in a rejection letter is when you stop trying. You have to keep moving forward. That is the real art of rejection. 

“The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place, and I don’t care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward; how much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!”- Rocky Balboa


To be continued…