pauline mckinney

found pearls of wisdom

Let them eliminate you.

This is a story I’ve always been too ashamed to tell anyone. Not even my husband knows this story.

I grew up in San Antonio, and I went to an ok public school. While I finished in the top 20 of my graduating class, I didn’t consider myself particularly smart. Certainly not smart enough to go to a GOOD school. I was definitely ok school material, and my SAT’s were proof of that. Growing up with parents who are from a different country meant that I was on my own when it came to navigating the college admissions process. I had no idea there were SAT prep materials, or that I could even take the test multiple times. I didn’t know there was such a thing as campus tours or that lots of top schools had endowments for poor students like me. I just applied to my local university, no tour taken.

It was a good education, but it was also close, safe, and BORING. I wanted something bigger and bolder for myself. Some of my friends were up at UT Austin, and their parties were a blast. So based on the party quality alone, I decided to apply to transfer into UT Austin’s prestigious business school. I was nervous, but I pushed through and clicked my way through all the questions. I clicked submit, paid my fees, and waited. Waiting for a decision back was excruciating. Even more torturous was opening the response envelope from them! I can remember feeling so deliciously excited and afraid at the same time. I GOT IN! I WAS ACCEPTED! I’d be starting my sophomore year in Austin!

Let’s fast forward to the end of my sophomore year. It had been an incredible year! There’s something about the energy of a big college campus that’s alive with people. It’s electric and exciting. I was in the middle of a breakup with my live in boyfriend, and I wasn’t getting along with some of my co-workers. I was looking for a new place to live, when I got something in the mail about my major and my school. I am not shitting you: it was in this moment that I realized I was in the school of education, not the school of business. My major was something like “General Education”. My heart must have dropped 50 feet into the ground. I remember feeling SO STUPID for not realizing this sooner, and of course for not applying to the right school in the first place. I felt like the biggest moron on the planet. I had already heard of the business school’s reputation, and how hard it was to get in. Surely, they wouldn’t take this moron.

I had three choices: I could push through, pick up the phone and talk to someone to figure out next steps, I could keep going as an education major, or I could pretend I was tired of Austin, and move back home.

I chose door #3. I was too defeated. Too afraid of the rejection and the shame that went with it. I was sure they wouldn’t have me, so I moved home without even trying. While I ended up getting an amazing education in the business school at UTSA, and doing exactly what I wanted in the end, I have always regretted that decision. I regret eliminating myself and not giving them the chance to eliminate me. While I can’t go back and change that decision, I did learn that eliminating myself will ALWAYS lead to wondering what if, and that’s no way to live. I learned (the hard way) to never again eliminate myself before giving others the chance to eliminate me.

Great For:
Low Confidence, Imposter Syndrome
When to use:
Anytime you don't feel good enough: job hunt, applying to elite schools, competitions
Printable Worksheet:
Print Me!
Inspired By:

ways to apply this pearl:

We are all afraid of getting rejected, it’s completely normal. But if you think you’ll ever wonder what if about your situation,  then it’s a sign that YOU NEED TO GO FOR IT and let them eliminate you.

So many people don’t go for things that feel out of their reach – but it also means they’ll never know, and they’ll never grow.

You’ve got this!

Don't do their job for them. Let them reject you.

Ramit Sethi

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