Having just been denied a fellowship, I think I will worsen my feelings of inadequacy by sharing with the world my other horrible rejection experiences. Let’s start with my rejection letter from Cornell University, for which I had been breathlessly waiting for during my senior year of high school. On that fateful day I ripped open the university stamped envelope and there it was, staring right at me. Written with care were these words, “Dear Applicant, Um, yeah, you applied early admission here and we just don’t think you can make it in our regular pool. Like how a student at our prestigious veterinary school shoots a lame horse, we’re putting you out of your misery, although you will never know such vet-school instruction because we’re not admitting you at any time in the foreseeable future – i.e., when you’re alive. Feel free to apply again once you are dead. Kisses, Cornell Exxxtreme Rejection Staff. P.S. Have you gained weight?”

I collapsed to the floor, clutching the sandwich I had been making when the mail arrived. My life was over! I’d have to move away from Ithaca, make new friends and I was bound to be exiled to some non-Ivy League school! Didn’t they understand that I was born to achieve? I was destined to go Ivy!

As I lay prostrate and sobbing on the floor, I caught a glimpse of the sandwich in my hand and thought of a friend who had become depressed, anorexic and bulimic due to a recent chain of terrible events in her life.

“If I get depressed over this,” I thought, “I’ll become anorexic and bulimic too! My life will become a never-ending spiral of binging and purging, a vacuum of unfelt emotions, a black spot on the sun of fun-loving times, a gaping wound in the corpse of this thing I used to know as happiness!”

I would be damned if I was going to let one letter of rejection take my hard earned happiness away from me! I was a fighter and I wasn’t going to give up!

About three years later came another notable rejection, this time in a break-up. I had been seeing this guy for a month and things weren’t going well. Basically, we had covered most of our conversation on the first date with, “Do you like Indian food?” “I love Indian food!”

While I hate break-ups, in this case I was bizarrely excited to finally even my “dumping score.” See, before this one, I had dated three guys and so far I had dumped one and been dumped by two. Here was a chance to even the score!

With my excitement growing, I phoned the guy to arrange an in-person dumping, but before I knew it he was dumping me. Well, I wasn’t about to let him get away with that! He started with, “You’re going abroad soon and I don’t want to get attached.” I replied, “Yup! That’s just what I was going to say!” Then he said, “You’re a really nice person, but I’m not feeling a connection.” I responded, “Precisely! No sparks!” He said, “It’s not you, it’s me,” and I agreed, “Right on! It’s you, not me!”

Alas, he talked through my protestations and soon I found myself rejected by three boyfriends. That’s a 1-3 record! Now I had to date and dump two more guys before I could even up the score! Was I destined to forever be a loser?

The answer to that question, I hope, is no. Yes, getting rejected sucks, but along with each negative response and a new wealth of unforeseen opportunities. Without the fellowship, I can now travel the world on my own terms and write about my experiences. Not getting into Cornell has lead me to UR and has introduced me to a group of amazing friends and experiences. As for getting dumped by that guy, well, now that just sucked. But my point is, rejection is awful, but it’s a big part of life. With any luck it will lead to bigger and better things. However, my dumping record still remains 1-3. Any guys out there willing to date me so I can dump you and bring back total Leah Dumping Domination?

Kaminsky can be reached at


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