I want to do an unprecedented and eccentric thing…. Even now such eccentric and extraordinary things utterly delight me. I simply don’t fit into the category of staid and conventional people.Fyodor Dostoevsky
It’s been a bit since I blogged, hasn’t it?
My last post being February 1, that puts me at well over two months since I updated. Friends, I am so sorry. Thank you so much for being patient with me and for those of you who are still liking, commenting, and subscribing to the blog. You’ve really encouraged me in my absence, and I’m more than ready to get back giving you all beautiful, soulful things to read.
The truth is, a lot has gone on, and I don’t even know if I’m sure where to start. But I’ve decided that my unofficial hiatus has come to an end, and I had better give a solid update on what I’ve been up to. Or at least, what I’ve learned.
I’ve begun working on my bachelor’s “thesis,” which is focused completely on the character of Ivan Karamazov and his double Smerdyakov from Fyodor Dostoevsky’s magnificent novel, The Brothers Karamazov. I’m studying Smerdyakov as Ivan’s foil, especially in regard to the three Karamazov brothers as components of the Freudian mind and the divisions of the Platonic soul. If Smerdyakov is the fourth half-brother, then what does that make him in these common readings? It’s fascinating to me, at least, and it’s taking up so much of my time these days. But, I love it.
I’ve made too many hard decisions in the last few months. People change so much, and hearts change, and suddenly things don’t seem real anymore, if you know what I mean. I won’t go into detail, but I’ve just gone up and down, I’ve frustrated so many people, I’ve cut heartstrings that bleed even now as I write this. I feel like a failure to some . . . like I’ve been nothing but a source of continual confusion, otherness, and singularity. It’s been an emotionally overwhelming few months, and I think I’m starting to come out of it.
But the one event that has changed me—mind and soul—has been getting rejection letters from the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, which was an absolutely devastating turn of events.
I still remember where I was sitting when I saw the news.
I was bending over my laptop at my writing desk after a bike ride that had put a healthy red glow in my cheeks. It was there that I logged in to my Cambridge applicant portal. I’d already had a devastating rejection letter the week before from the University of Oxford, and I wasn’t ready for Cambridge’s just-as-adamant no.
But the application status still said what it said:
Your application has been unsuccessful.
You know the kind of feeling when someone’s kicked a soccer ball into your stomach and you can’t breathe for a good two seconds because the wind’s been squeezed out of your mouth? That’s a good way of putting my lack of oxygen when I read those words.
Naturally, I started crying. Hopelessly crying.
I didn’t understand.
Only two weeks before, the University of Cambridge English department had sent word that they had recommended me for admission to the university’s degree committee (imagine my astonishment), which meant it was more than likely that my application would succeed. It meant that it was more than likely that I would be a Masters student at Cambridge University.
I could not stop crying for a few minutes. Every hope that I had placed in the possibility of a new world, inspecting old manuscripts with gloved hands in a dimly lit library, studying at a world class institution, and fulfilling a childhood dream had been ripped into a million infuriating shreds.
I wanted to be good enough to be part of that.
And the door they closed on me that fateful Monday seemed to me a hideous reality. Were they confirming the dreadful fear that I have always feared?
That I really wasn’t good enough for my dreams? That my oddness would find me out eventually, and that I really wasn’t destined for greatness?
I’ve always been trying to prove myself on so many levels. Ever since I was a small girl, I’ve always felt the need to rise above standards. I’ve always wanted to be smart, determined, driven, and wholehearted in everything I do. I’ve always wanted to climb the mountains that everyone said I couldn’t climb, and I’ve always wanted to have the prestige that no one else wanted to fight for. I didn’t (and still don’t) want to be another “young person.”
I want to be someone worth remembering.
And part of being rejected by Oxford and Cambridge made me realize that . . . I’m still me. I’m still the young woman with the abnormally big heart, the assured belief in a loving God, the shivering emotions, the literary strengths, and the hunger for truth and academia. I’m still . . . myself. I’m still the writer, I’m still the reader, and I’m still the driven student.
Not being let in to Oxbridge doesn’t change me or my academic standings. It doesn’t make me any less . . . Emily. I’m Emily through and through, and I am who I’m supposed to be. I can’t change myself, and neither can Oxbridge’s decisions about me.
I’ve prayed so much during these last few months. And though I sometimes feel so bitterly lonely in my quiet corner of the world, I’ve come to see that rejection—and not just the university kind of rejection—doesn’t change one’s identity. In fact, it can’t. And I’ve not let it change mine.
The one phrase that has echoed in my head throughout this entire year so far has been solas Christus.
My comforter, my truest friend, my ally, and my Father.
When I’m not enough for a university, for other people, for myself . . . I’m enough for him. And I always will be.
It’s so strange talking about this out loud, but this has been my brain for the last month or so. Through all the tears, the anger, the materialized fear of rejection, and the Karamazovian loneliness, I’ve partially emerged reminding myself that I’m still here. My soul still lives and breathes and surges inside my body. I am alive, and rejection can do nothing to change that.
I do hope this post wasn’t too sad for you lovely readers. I have returned, and I’m so excited to bring some beautiful posts to you all in the coming months. Again, thank you for being so patient. I love you all, and I’m greatly looking forward to blogging more regularly again.
*hides face in shame*
Also, please do drop by and check out my Tumblr, The Karamazov Sister. I deleted my Star Wars Tumblr since I didn’t really use it anymore, and I just started a purely dark academia/literature Tumblr. I’ll be using it way more than I did the Star Wars one, and I’m looking forward to hopefully connecting with you on there.
I’ll be posting again soon!
2 thoughts on “In Retrospect of Rejection Letters (ft. an explanation of my absence)”
I discovered your blog just after you took a break from posting and have been haunting ever since, so I am excited that you shall be writing again! I am deeply grieved to hear about your unsuccessful applications to Oxford and Cambridge. In my wild dreams, I would love to study there and can only imagine the sickening disappointment you are experiencing. In the meantime, may I encourage you to continue writing and learning and loving.
Hello dear Nicole!
Thank you for your kind message, and apologies for my late response. I am so delighted that you’ve been “haunting” my blog (it’s an honor, truly), and I hope you enjoy my posts to come! I’m hoping to apply to the old Oxbridge again for a PhD perhaps, so we will see what happens. Thank you for your encouragement and understanding. It was a wild ride! I’m looking forward to seeing more of you on the blog 😉