Sign in to follow this  
  • entries
  • comments
  • views

On mood, emotion, and playing the waiting game



So, like a good little nerd, I've mapped it out:

My happiness is on the y-axis, ascending from 0 (none) to 100 (most).

The time of day is on the x.

-- And the waiting game is a perfect quadratic equation.

I wake up and check my email, and when I see that I still have not heard from graduate schools, I start off my day at (0, 0). Never mind that, surely, it is irrational to expect a POI to have emailed me between 3 am and 7 am EST.

I go to campus, go to class, go to lab, do my thing. Sooner or later I run into my adviser who always has either a stimulating philosophical/scientific topic to discuss or words of wisdom/encouragement about the app process. For the duration of the time spent with him plus an hour and a half or so of afterglow, my parabola is at its peak.

As the clock ticks down toward 5 pm, however, the slope of my line becomes negative once more, until at last I'm sitting in bed, right back where I started, having come full circle since that morning.

Lately, my parabola has become increasingly like a flat line, at a very low y value, continuously, as I begin to give up hope altogether.

But you know what?

Screw that.

I'm rewriting this equation.

We cannot control our circumstances or our environment, but we can control our responses. I choose to continue to think positively, to hope, and to believe that I am still an excellent scholar whether or not I get into a Ph.D. program this time around. I choose to respond by finding the best ways to improve my application for the next round. I choose to learn from my mistakes, and to write my own internal story.

Rainer Maria Rilke wrote, "Think of the worlds you carry within you."

These worlds within your mind do not disappear simply because you feel they are going unrecognized. The worlds are ever-evolving, crafted and populated by your own will, and full of infinite possibility.

Not getting into graduate school does not mean the destruction of every world, every dream-castle you've built for yourself.

It just means you get to spend a bit more time in their construction.


Recommended Comments

Being realistic about the process can be depressing but also should make you realize that it's mostly not about you. I just got informed that it looks that most likely I'm out at my top choice of Stanford, after recieving an interview, for reasons having nothing to do with my merit. The proff just doesn't look like he'll be able to take a student this year even when he originally thought he might able to. There's so much stuff that goes on in this process that just reflects the crap shoot that it is. Some great candidates get overlooked, some bad candidates get lucky, and sometimes circumstances just don't line up. Not getting in your first season is nothing to be ashamed about. My first time applying out I got shut out even though professors predicted I'd do well. I knew I was a good student - things just didn't come toegther on the admissions end for me. Right now in my second year applying out, so far I'm only currently sitting on 3 interviews out of 10 schools applied. There's just no sure things in this stuff.

Having said all that, you're not out until you get word. Even if you don't make first round of interviews, many times you might make the second. My colleague last year didn't hear anything through February, assumed he was shut out, and then all of a sudden end of February he got an interview from one of his top choices and got accepted. The proff told him the first person he brought out was horrible and so he called my friend. So hang in there for now, and in the worst case that you get shut out, it's probably not your fault. If you're in this for the duration you just need to take a year, build up your experience and try again. It'll work out if you keep at it.

Share this comment

Link to comment

Thanks so much, William. :) This has been a really tough cycle for me, and even though I haven't heard anything definitive back, it's looking like I won't be interviewed or accepted anywhere this year.


It's tough for me because I was the Golden Kid in my lab, and all my profs/advisers had been so convinced I'd have a large number of acceptances to choose from in the end. It's going to be humiliating to face the world after this, and I feel very melancholy going into the rest of this semester, but I'm gonna have to find a way to make it work. There are bigger things in the world than grad school, and I will be where I want to be in ten years whether I take a year off after UG or not.


Actually, the superstar in my school's department got rejected for two straight cycles from every single school to which he applied. Round three, he got accepted to every school he applied to. 


People like that give me hope that there's always a chance for a comeback.

Edited by gellert

Share this comment

Link to comment

William, what do you think wrong the first round of your applications?I mean what specific things did you change in this application cycle?How did you change your strategy?

Share this comment

Link to comment

Gellert, cheer up!!!I haven't received any notifications yet (but for anthro it's a little later than for psychology), but I am staying positive, planning ahead for 2013!!

Share this comment

Link to comment

Gellert, although I understand you!Today my thesis supervisor asked me if I heard anything from schools yet, and I had nothing to say, I really didn't wanna disappoint him :(

Share this comment

Link to comment

Well said. I was feeling burned 5 rejections in. On top of that I had a great phone interview for a great research grant position , by evening the website updated to "interviewed not final selection." Burned.

But you are right, control responses and think positively. I still have a great internship I'm at, I have nearly 10 more schools to hear back from, and there are many more research positions i can apply for. And if all else fails this time around there is next time. Plus I have my friends and girlfriend and family, and passions and interests outside the field.

Share this comment

Link to comment

"Have you ever had a dream, Neo, that you were so sure was real? What if you were unable to wake from that dream, Neo? How would you know the difference between the dream world and the real world? "

-- The Matrix

Share this comment

Link to comment

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now