When You Don’t Make the List (For Now)

David Guirgis, 2015 Finalist and QuestBridge Blogger
David Guirgis, 2015 Finalist and QuestBridge Blogger

I cried like a child on December 1, but I wasn’t crying because I didn’t match; I cried because I was so happy for everyone. (Masculinity may be fragile but so are my emotions.) I’ve met a million wonderful people through QuestBridge, people I wish I’d met a million years before. And seeing their success—their hard work and the way they powered through lives that weren’t picture-perfect—pay off in such a grand fashion made me feel that much more special, because I’d become a part of their story the way they’d become a part of mine.

So, if you’re reading this and you got matched, I hope you know that, even if we haven’t spoken before, I’m so proud of you for proving the world wrong about students like us: the low-income students meant for far greater things.

But all of this isn’t to say that I didn’t feel hurt at not matching. I was happy for my friends and I let them finish, but I wanted it, too. So yeah, I wallowed a bit once I dried my happy tears. I’m only human, after all. I fell in love with a bunch of incredible schools, I ranked them, I dreamed about and hoped for orange banners—and it didn’t happen. Regardless of the fact that not matching doesn’t mean a rejection, it feels like that when you get the news. And rejection is the worst, guys. I’ve been rejected a billion times—from guys, from summer programs, from seconding motions made at Key Club board meetings—and this one was especially tough.

In the weeks leading up to the Match, as I discussed both the match and the December 15th D-Day of EA/ED notifications, I said the same thing over and over again: we’re allowed a day at most to wallow and be sad and all that jazz before jumping back into the world. And even as I said all of this, the all-too familiar pit of what-ifs made its reemergence. In retrospect, my making such a big deal about saying things along these lines was not only an extension of something I inherently believe is true; it was also my version of faking it ‘til I made it. Maybe, I thought, if I said this often enough and with enough vigor, I’d be okay come Match time if things didn’t go my way.

And, you know what? I did better than I thought. Maybe faking it ‘til you make it really works; maybe I was just too excited that my other “QBaes” were finally embarking on the lives they’d always dreamed of. Whatever the case may have been, I only took about an hour (okay, two) to air out my grievances. And I let myself be terrified, and I let myself be upset, and I let myself scroll through my feed to look for people who matched to the school I ranked first (don’t do this, by the way.)

But I got over it.

And if I, a constantly emotional trainwreck, could soldier through the disappointment, then you’ve got this, too.

Anyway, by the time you’ll have read this, I’ll be knee-deep in apps once again and waiting once again for an email about a portal update.

And yeah, I’m scared that Round 2 might be another pummeling.

But I’ll be okay.

We all will be.

We’ve made it this far, after all.

by David Guirgis, 2015 National College Match Finalist