Monday, March 5, 2012

Misfire - Part Dos

The second part of a 3-part series. Read the first post below.

Until that Friday. You may or may not know, since I haven't been very vocal about it, but I've been applying to grad schools to be a school counselor. Part of the grand life plan, ya know. More on that another time.

Really, I should say "school." Because although I initially had a list of five or six potential programs, pregnancy disrupted my plans, and I only ended up actually applying to one school, Georgia State. I was OK with that because it just so happened to be my first choice. Not just because it's here in the city--although that's huge--but the program is very good.

I actually applied last year, and I was chosen from the initial pool of more than 100 applicants to interview for a spot. But because of aforementioned baby, I asked if I could roll the app over to next year. One of the faculty members, viewing my application materials, was very encouraging. I believe her exact words were "there's absolutely no reason why we wouldn't want to see you again next year."

I did indeed get an email at the end of January, inviting me to interview at GA State for a spot in the program. (It was really nice--kind of like getting cast in a play without having to audition.) I brushed up on my goals and interview techniques, took the whole day off, put on my best duds and went down there, chin up. It was a grueling series of interviews, one group and two private. I had the group first, which seemed ideal. Other interviewees would diffuse the nervous energy and fill any conversational holes. Plus, the moderator wasn't even part of the actual school counseling faculty (although in retrospect, maybe that worked against me). Because I felt like I stood out in the group, or at the very least held my own.

Then I had to take a breast pumping break. It was good because I got to go over my notes and practice what I was going to say. BUT I didn't get to talk to the current students who were floating around, "answering questions" but most likely also spying for the admissions committee.

My next two interviews were with, I later learned, the most hard-ass of the four interviewers. The first one was pretty intimidating--I don't think she smiled AT ALL--but I still felt like I answered all the questions coherently and originally. My second interview happened to also be the last one of the session. By then I think she had relaxed a bit, and I felt like we had a great conversation. We talked about how giving up my current situation is scary, but a risk worth taking (Note: this was the self-same faculty member who had encouraged me in rolling over my app the year prior).

There were about 25 people interviewing that day, and there was supposed to be about as many in a second afternoon session. There were only spots for 20-22 people. I'm sure everyone was thinking the same thing as I: only half of us will be accepted...I'll certainly be one of them. I was feeling so confident that I actually started to get nervous about how I was going to manage the rent on our new place with only one income. They told us that if we were accepted, we would get an unofficial congratulations email "ASAP."

ASAP is kind of a vague term of course. But because of some other parts of the same conversation, I had the distinct impression it would be within the next two or three days. Those who were rejected, on the other hand, wouldn't hear anything at all until that thin envelope arrives in the mail weeks later.

I didn't even check my email all weekend--that's how un-nervous I felt about it. On Monday, I half expected to see something in my inbox, but no. By Wednesday, I had started to check my junk know what I'm talking about. On Friday, a friend sent me an encouraging note and I again felt like acceptance was in the realm of possibility. Today, the only acceptance I'm feeling is the final stage in the grieving process.

OK, so I'm not exactly grieving. Not over getting rejected anyway (I can always apply again later, or to another school. Life is long). It's more so because, once again, somehow being totally off in my perception of the situation. I'm no cock-eyed optimist. I don't believe in The Secret or the power of positive thinking, at least in terms of its ability to influence real life events. In other other words, I am pretty realistic. And I really did think I aced those interviews. How in the world can I be so wrong? Twice in the same week?

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