Ariane de Gennaro

If I were a season, I’d be autumn. Just as the leaves are constantly falling from trees, I am constantly falling. I don’t mean physically –– though that happens a lot, too –– but emotionally. I get over-invested in everything I do, which works out fine when I’m actually able to do said things. But after coming to Yale, I found myself falling for activities that wouldn’t catch me.

My high school’s student body was a thirteenth of Yale’s undergraduate population, and not at all competitive. It was very easy to get involved there. After I left Yale’s Extracurricular Bazaar, my inbox flooded with details about club applications and auditions, I began to realize involvement wouldn’t come as easily here.

My Google Calendar quickly filled with audition dates and application deadlines, and soon after, my inbox was graced by another kind of email: one of rejection. “Thank you for auditioning for our project,” they always started. “Unfortunately, we are not able to offer you a role at this time.” It was always the same.

Yale is filled with talented, brilliant, innovative people, so I didn’t fool myself into thinking that getting involved would be as easy as it was in high school. Still, each rejection felt like rubbing salt in an already open wound. I’d fallen for each activity harder than Bella Swan fell for Edward Cullen. I’d spent an embarrassing amount of time romanticizing the people I’d meet and the things I’d do, if only I got accepted into each activity. But instead of having a super strong vampire to catch me when I fell, I had nothing but questions and a bruised ego.

All of this left me wondering: how do you recover from rejection? How do you cope when it feels like you’re not good enough to do the things you want to do?

It would’ve been all too easy to fall into a well of self-doubt and despair, and to a certain extent, I did. But somehow, I always managed to crawl my way out. I found my “lifelines” –– things that shined a light in my proverbial tunnel, and that, when woven together, created a safety net that broke my fall.

The first of these lifelines was my friends. As cheesy as it sounds, the people I’ve met here have brought more joy into my life than I knew possible. Not only that, but we were all going through similar struggles. Everyone was getting the same rejection emails; Everyone was having a hard time. Knowing that I didn’t have to navigate the losses on my own made a difference, because suddenly, recovery wasn’t a solitary task. Sometimes it looked like crying on the couch in my friend’s suite, and other times it looked like 1 a.m. snack runs to GHeav, but it was all recovery. It was all together.

Something else that helped? Relying on my favorite things, like Disney’s “Hercules.” “Hercules” was the only movie I’d brought with me from home, and that was by accident. Or maybe it wasn’t; Maybe the universe knew I would need it, because when the familiar characters flashed across the screen, suddenly I was six years old again, cuddled on the couch in my mother’s arms. Oddly enough, “Hercules” also helped put things in perspective: At least I didn’t have to slay a Hydra to save a village like the titular character. If Hercules could overcome the pressure of being a hero and move on with his life, then I could certainly overcome the pressure of club application season and move on with mine. 

I believe that every rope in a net is equally important. If one were to break, the entire net could unravel, and then you’d have nothing to catch you. Still, if I had to pinpoint the thing that helped me most, it would be the fact that there is always something else out there. When I was younger, I adopted a mentality: If something that I really wanted to happen didn’t work out, then that just meant something even better must be coming. Whether or not that’s true doesn’t matter as much as the basic fact that something else is coming. 

It wasn’t until one night in my friend’s suite that I realized how temporary everything is. I’d had a rough day, and she told me that the way that I was feeling wouldn’t last forever. “It’s only October,” she reminded me. “The rejection you’re facing now won’t even be on your mind three months from now.” I didn’t realize it at the time, but she was right. I’ll keep working, I’ll keep applying, and though rejections will inevitably happen, so will successes. 

I am autumn. I fall like the leaves, but harder and faster because I get so excited to do the things that I love. Clearly, those things won’t always work out, but that’s okay because I’ll have more things to look forward to. I’ll have my friends. And, if nothing else, I’ll have “Hercules.”