Rejection Letter

“We regret to inform you that we will not be able to offer you a place in our Class of 2016.”

Defense mechanisms, activate!
Repress it, repress it, repress it
Wait, what am I supposed to be repressing? Oh, damn it!
How do I intellectualize this?

In the matrix of self-identity versus acceptance status,
There are four possible scenarios:
Not being yourself and being rejected for it,
Not being yourself and being accepted for it,
Being yourself and being accepted,
And being yourself and being rejected.
The first one serves you right,
The second one makes you an increasingly typical member of society,
The third one is awesome beans,
But the last one hurts like hell.

“We regret to inform you that we will not be able to offer you a place in our Class of 2016.”
What happens to a dream-school college app rejected?
Does it get forgotten like a placement of keys?
Or laughed at with a colleague over coffee and tea?
Does it stink like ideas gone moldy and dreams gone stale?
Maybe it only disintegrates back into ones and zeros
In some forgotten corner of a circuit board.
Or does its writer explode?

Maybe that last one, because Christ, I got
Rejected like a wrong-ass null hypothesis
I can’t even hope for an alpha error
Apparently, my levels of significance
And confidence were both too low, and
My p-value and test scores too small,
I was only in the ninety-eighth percentile
And I’m sorry I couldn’t start a non-profit organization
For starving kids in Africa,
I’m just not one of those crazily ambitious, magnanimous,
And business-minded outliers.

I’m not going to say they were wrong about me
But I was right about me, because for once,
I was completely genuine;
The opposite species from
Who I was so many times in the past –
Instead of not being myself and being accepted,
I was myself and got rejected.
But I wish I could have gotten me
Farther than just a hundred miles –
If my intellectual worth were gasoline,
The car would have broken down at ASU.

Honestly I’m still not yet able to make
Something positive from this,
To the point where I’m starting to think that maybe that’s okay.
Maybe “growing” and “being an adult” doesn’t mean
Having all the answers, but accepting that you don’t and can’t.
Maybe it’s plenty to instead be grateful for all you have learned,
And to carry that knowledge like a warm lantern
That plumbs the darkness unfolding on every side;
And to meet other flames in the dark
And share each other’s light.
The dark is the great equalizer, because it doesn’t
Give a damn about the prestige or academic rigor
Of your institution.
And so I am happy to inform you
That I will always be able to offer a place in me
To more light.
♠ ♠ ♠
This is a slam poem, hence the informal diction.