9th January 2019
and it wasn’t meant to be. And I kind of saw it coming. And that’s okay. I was gutted this morning. But who wouldn’t be?
So I got rejected from Oxford.
Of course I would love to say I’m going to be studying there this October, but one of my resolutions this was to be not to focus on ‘what could’ve been’ and focus on what’s in front of me. I had this in mind with the imminent response from Oxford and I honestly am not thinking about what could have been, I’m thinking about what is.
Education for me became the escape from the reality I didn’t necessarily want to partake in. Thus, it assumed the position of a consuming activity that in part has damaged my mental health and in part brought me everything and more to a life that may have continued in dull succession. Education is the lifeline that kept pumping new knowledge into my body like blood. Without it; who would I be? What is the ultimate goal for such an education junkie? Some may consider that Oxbridge. I think I see it differently now.
To me it came to be that working so hard for your A levels was only justified if you got to Oxford because that’s the best you can get and what’s the point in getting the best grade in the exam if you’re not going to the best university? That’s not the case. It can’t be the case. Après rejection, I think: to what extent was that the driving force for getting good results? I was talking to my friend Ellie about the whole process and she questioned that: ‘Did I really want Oxford? Or did I want the feeling it hypothetically gave me?’ I think maybe it was both, I honestly did love the course and the whole idea of the Oxford experience but I think it went beyond the notion that ‘I’d quite like to go here’, maybe I internalised the idea that such a path is the only path to being a better student academically or it would require going there in order to flourish in life.
Upon reflection, and I’ve been doing a lot lately, I don’t think that is the case. I never stepped into this process with Oxford being the only route that I could take, despite the whole ‘Oxford dream’ complex. My back-up plan is now coming into fruition and I am not, in the slightest, sad about it. In fact, my rejection from Oxford is a pretty positive one. Such is the way of life that we face rejection, this is the first big one. I can officially say I am an Oxford reject and in itself that is an achievement. But it is more than that. I can’t fathom how draining this whole process has been, you put so much of yourself into applying, so much time (SO MUCH TIME) that may seem like it was wasted. Honestly, it was a step to a greater understanding of myself as a person. Because it is and it was one of the most rewarding things I’ve done.
Through applying to Oxford, I read new books, fell in love with Renaissance history, fell in LOVE with French literature, met Erin at interviews, met the girls from Geneva from work experience at interviews, have made better friends with my online pals, realised what I really want to be doing with my life. One of the best parts of interviews was becoming friends with Anya, my college is so huge so not everyone knows everyone and I only met Anya through the whole Oxbridge process but if you’re reading this Anya, you’re a great pal and I can’t wait to go to Berlin next month 😉 I’m able to answer more University Challenge answers and have some pretty cool historical knowledge that is beyond the confines of my A level. Through my subsequent rejection, I’ve learnt that the act of rejection doesn’t define you, but how you deal with it.
So, what if I’m not going there this year? That doesn’t sequester my worth in any way. Because I’ve learnt (or am learning) that life doesn’t always go to plan and you’ve got to make new plans. Oxford was the dream but it wasn’t the only university I had my heart set on.
Yes, this morning I may have been a little sad, but I was kind of expecting it and a month after interviews is time to reflect and to consider where I want to go and what is really right for me. I thought Oxford was right for me purely because of the lifeline that education and learning has given me and the hours spent at a desk when I should have been going out with friends. But really it was the alternative. I chose education because I had too much time to fill and I didn’t know what to fill it with. It was fulfilling. But there is more to life than knowledge and facts and figures and the past year has taught me that. I think not getting into to Oxford is the prevention I need to break the cycle of work, work, work because I’ve compromised myself as a result. I love learning, don’t get me wrong, but there is a point where it can become unhealthy. I genuinely think this is a positive thing.
What next? Bristol is going to be my firm I think, with Edinburgh being my insurance. I’m not planning on taking a gap year because although this post may heavily suggest I need a break from the education system I know in my heart I could not take over a year off. This summer is going to be what I need as a break and I’m already visualising it in the distance. I also know that if I take a gap year it would be just to reapply. I couldn’t go through this process again. I know that if I got rejected a second time this post would look a wholeee lot different. We’re onto better things.
If you got rejected from Oxbridge, I’m sorry. If you got accepted then congratulations! You should be so proud of yourself and everything that you’ve achieved thus far, but likewise if you didn’t get in, you should be incredibly proud. It’s hard, you’ll get through this. Have a little cry, be sad and then move on because great things are ahead and what about the path not taken?
lots of love, eleanor xx
10th January 2019 – I wrote this post on the day of rejection so I feel like there was still some residual angst in conjunction with a tinge of sadness. A day has passed. My mental health is the best it has been than in the past month. I know it was the right decision (and I got the raw data about how I did in parts of the process and I impressed myself! Little achievements guys). I’m excited about the future.
If you’re reading this post due to the R word of rejection then here are a few other resources that may help ease the pain:
The Road not Taken by Robert Frost is one of my favourites, it really encapsulates that after a rejection a different path lies ahead (even though it isn’t necessarily about rejection itself).
Dalal’s much more eloquent and concisely written rejection post from Oxford