‘Discovering Resilience’, by Ruby Granger
I was looking through my old journals the other day and, on the first page of one from 2013, I read, “Hello, my name is Ruby, I am twelve years old and my dream is to study English at Oxford University”. Even though I was still on the cusp of childhood, I was holding onto the possibility of studying at the prestigious school that Oxford is regarded to be world-wide. As a young teenager, I decorated my walls with postcards which I collected from tiny gift shops in the city and artistically positioned Bodleian candlesticks on my window sill.
If you’ve seen the film Candy Jar on Netflix, I was a subdued version of Lona who wanted to study at Harvard.
When Oxford offered me an interview back in December 2017, I was buzzing because it felt like everything was falling into place.
However, silence quickly fell when my rejection email came in early January. I still remember my stomach dropping as I read the telling line at the top of my computer screen: “after careful consideration of your application…”. I didn’t read to the end of the email, and stared out of the window instead. It was January, but I remember that there were no clouds. It was break time, and I could hear people moving and laughing from just outside of the classroom door. I had been expecting a rejection email but, at the same time, it felt surreal as I realised that this dream that I had held since childhood could not now come true.
My biggest and immediate concern, - and one which was really quite irrational-, was that everyone would be disappointed, not just with me, but in me. Since I had invested so much into my application, I was certain that people would see me as an entirely different person now that I had been rejected; However, the kindness which I was shown that week reminded me that I really didn’t have to go to Oxford to be happy. The people around me, - my friends, family, teachers and viewers -, helped me to be resilient and reconsider my options.
Getting rejected for English made me wonder whether I had made the correct course choice at all. A nagging part of me had, since about fifteen, told me that I would be happier studying Philosophy at degree level, but I was so caught up in my dream that I did not give it adequate thought. The Oxford bubble having burst, however, I was able to properly think about it, and I realised that I had indeed made a mistake.
Seamlessly and easily, I changed my choice on UCAS from English and North American Studies to Philosophy and Theology at Exeter, and made this my firm choice. Whilst I still sometimes feel a pang of regret, I think that getting rejected from Oxford was for the best. Not only am I now heading off to study a subject which I am really excited about, but I faced real failure for the first time and I think that it has just been so important for my personal resilience. Resilience is essential for continued determination and motivation.
To coin a phrase from one of my favourite childhood films, Meet The Robinsons, we need to “keep moving forwards”.
Funnily enough, at school in January, as I left the classroom after receiving my rejection email, I passed a younger girl who was clearly distressed about something or other.
Pushing my rejection from my mind, I made this my focus. I made this more important.
Resilience sometimes means pushing something aside, such as ‘failure’, and not letting that define you and your actions.
I am so glad I stopped on that day, (even if just for a minute), because it reminded me that there were still things I could do.
It’s sounds silly, but the first step to continued determination after failure has to be tiny.
Do something you would do on any other day, because this reminds you that not everything has changed. That it is not the end of the world.
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You can also find Ruby’s study planner and book at: www.pumpkinproductivity.co.uk