Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Stages of Grief

No I have not been rejected from any schools yet, but yes I am sitting on a roller coaster ride of emotions.  It turns out one can experience grief long before loss even occurs!  Like many other people waiting, I go from feeling very morose and melancholic to completely composed and confident. Some people refer to this behavior as "manic"; I prefer the term "elliptical." Round and round it goes 'til I'm very very dizzy!

Psychology in popular culture is a far cry from the actually science it supposedly represents, so mostly it can come across as just armchair hooey.  But the one aspect of psych that's been popularized over the years to our benefit is the stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally acceptance. These are not an orderly queue of stages, rather they are a delightful merry-go-round of mania. 

This stage features the slowly waning belief that there's still a chance, that you will be admitted.  Maybe they just haven't read your application yet.  Maybe you didn't receive an interview because your application was so fabulous they've decided to admit you without one.  Maybe they want to waitlist you so you can continue to wait for another 6 months just to be rejected in June.

Or maybe you're just about to get rejected and should suck it up.  It's actually easier to assume the worst because anything else would feel great! Denial is a boring stage, so I don't spend much time there.  It doesn't appeal to my love of anxiety. Plus it's so FRUSTRATING.

Did someone mention frustration? That's how it starts, and then it evolves into the horribly unattractive feelings of entitlement and jealousy.  

I deserved an interview; I am amazing!  Or the flip side: Why does she get an interview; my (name your poison here) is far superior!  The frustration is so palpable and real.  I mean, how could we have been overlooked?  It's positively impossible that someone could ignore our grace and beauty!  

Sadly, anger doesn't get us anywhere either.  We do not in fact deserve an admit.  But we want it so bad! Hmm, so comes the next stage...

Ok, you're right, I don't deserve an admit outright, but how about in exchange for an interview I offer you my super secret chocolate cupcake recipe! 

If only this strategy worked.  The adcom would have more fabulous gifts and secrets than a playboy bunny. So once we realize that frustration isn't working, we seek ways to reason with the unknown enemy.  We plead: "I'll do anything if you give me a chance!"  At the end of the day though, they're not listening.  There are too many items on sale.  Your bargain is hardly a bargain.

Wait, my goods aren't good enough?

And so we slowly realize that we aren't quite what they're looking for.  We are in fact not worthy.  Yes, it sucks. During this stage we get all mopey and sad, wishing we'd done something different, but mostly just agonizing that it's over and we failed. Miserably.   

Being sad is no fun, so let's just pretend everything's fine.  See, all better now! (Hint, denial's around the corner!)

So you've been around the block a few times and you made it here. Congratulations on coming to terms with your horrible life! 

Wait...acceptance is at the end of the line? Does that mean  acceptance TO BUSINESS SCHOOL will be the culmination of all of our prolonged anguish?  I like the sound of this! Hooray psychology!


  1. Well written, having experienced the many stages, I hope it all ends with the last one you mention. All the best

  2. CONGRATULATIONS!! No grief, no mo! I am so very happy for you.

  3. Thanks so much! I don't know that I could be on the forums again Cheeterah! It's gotta be like PTSD for you! Your encouragement has really helped over the past few weeks!