We were in fourth grade and Scott, Steve and I rode our bicycles past Lisa Kaputnick’s house. Back and forth. Back and forth. It was my first crush.
She was nowhere in sight and I was too scared to ring her doorbell. We rode to Scott’s house and we looked up her number in the phone book (please Google what a phone book is.) I nervously dialed the telephone.
It rang and her mother answered. “May, I speak to Lisa,” I squeaked out. Lisa came on the line and I asked her if she liked me. I know, a pretty lame line. She said “no.”
I said “OK” and our short-lived romance was over – or I guess you could say never got started.
And no, there was no happy ending. That was it. Rejection, pure and simple. And looking back on it, it was the best thing that could have happened to me.
Life is full of rejection. Whether it is being cut from the team, not getting that part time job that you wanted, not being invited to a party or being appreciated by your Lisa Kaputnick, you will face and have faced rejection. We all have.
As we get older, there are painful breakups, jobs that we don’t get, promotions that pass us by, or even jobs that just don’t work out.
Of course, there is also one of the most significant rejections: the rejection letter from a college or multiple colleges.
And again, that is good. Rejection is good?! How can that be? Because of the universe. Yes, the universe. I have seen this truth in life and I now preach it in my college admissions practice: What will be, will be. It is what it is.
Is that the right attitude for a college admissions counselor to take, you might ask. Good question.
Here is my answer:
“What I preach is “full out best effort,” then stepping back and letting the universe take over. Did I do that with Lisa Kaputnick? Well, looking back, the answer is no. I probably could have made more of an effort than the ride-by and the one phone call. But, hey I was 10 years old. It was my best effort for that stage of my life.
The point is what I like to call the “bashert” philosophy. I learned this from my grandmother, Anna, when I was young. “Bashert” is a Yiddish word. The definition is “destined, fated, meant to be.” It’s the Yiddish equivalent of “que sera, sera” or what will be, will be, or destiny or fate. While it’s most used in terms of romance, it was always expanded to relate to everything in our house.
Who knew that in between canasta games, my grandmother was being Chopra before there was Chopra. Deepak Chopra writes a lot about coincidences and fate and the universe.
Which brings me to his “law of detachment.” He advises not to give up your desire for something, but instead give up your attachment to the result. You must ground yourself in the wisdom of uncertainty and in this uncertainty you will find the freedom to create everything you want.
This is a very powerful concept and one that’s very hard to wrap your head around, especially if you are a 17-year-old applying to college: Desire something, have a strong intention to get that something, but then step back and release any attachment to that outcome.
This is contrary to the philosophy of wanting something and “going for it.”
Or is it? It really isn’t. I tell my clients, let’s come up with the list of schools. Yes, there will be that dream school. It may be a reach or it may not. But, let’s step and back and make sure that there other “dream” schools. Or another way to put it: Your dreams can come true at more than one place. We need to step back and trust the universe. College admissions is not a zero sum game. It is not all or nothing. It is much like life. Things will work out, if you let it.
So, college applicants. Get ready for rejection. Or maybe not. Get ready to get into your No. 1 choice or maybe not. What will be will be. What is bashert is bashert. Or maybe you will be lucky like I was and Lisa Kaputnick will reject you and things will work out just right!