Julianna Conley | Wednesday, March 16, 2022
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: LinkedIn is the best social media platform from which to Internet-investigate your latest acquaintance. You get a clear shot of their face, plainly stated majors and minors, a list of their “activities and societies,” the name of their dorm if they’re involved in hall council and even a hometown if their high school is listed. For trying to figure out why you recognize the name of your roommate’s marriage pact, it’s the best.
Unfortunately, in terms of creating a breeding ground for comparing yourself to others, though, it’s the worst.
Logging onto LinkedIn, my feed is immediately flooded with posts gushing about how excited someone is to finally announce their postgrad employment. Scrolling through my classmates’ profiles, I’m met with accomplishment after accomplishment, an endless laundry list of awards and research experiences and prestigious internships. And as exciting as it is to learn my best friend was offered the McWell job she desperately wanted, too often, this highlight reel of success doesn’t paint the full picture.
As a rule, Notre Dame students are high achievers. They’re involved; they’re driven; they’re chartered for success. To quote my sophomore year orgo lab TA, who was thoroughly impressed by my group’s extraction of the aqueous layer, “Ok, beasts. I feel like everyone is high key popping off right now.” And we are! And I’m proud of us! We should celebrate! But when everyone else is celebrating, it can be easy to feel like you’re the only person left licking your wounds in the corner. And while I could offer comforting sympathies or sage wisdom, sometimes when you’re feeling your lowest, you really just want to know that someone else has been in that valley too.
A hardly comprehensive list of endeavors where I’ve come up short:
- My freshman year, I applied to be a tour guide. While I remain cheered by the fact that my written application was top notch, if I do say so myself, the group interview was an unmitigated disaster. Feeling self-conscious about peers listening to my answers, I became extremely flustered, brought up my mother in nearly every response and unsolicitedly offered a long and winding anecdote about peeing my pants. In a twist of twists, enthusiastic sharing about accidental urination was not what the selection committee was looking for in a representative of the University. Go figure. Not only did I not get the job, I still cringe realizing a dozen strangers walk this campus with intimate knowledge of my most embarrassing college moment.
- I confidently registered for the Holy Half Marathon in December, ran over the break and during the first few weeks of school, got overwhelmed by an overloaded schedule and submitted my refund request today.
- I made it to the second round of a medical innovation healthcare shadowing internship but still didn’t make the cut.
- Also freshman year, in a panic that I wasn’t involved enough, I auditioned for The Addams Family musical — but decided so last minute that I didn’t know any of the audition songs. The creative team was very kind but when the music started and I began singing the lyrics to the wrong song, I knew not to hold my breath for any leading roles.
- I earned a 100 on my first gen chem 2 exam, felt certain I was a chemistry prodigy, didn’t study for the second exam and walked out with a 65 on exam 2.
- I’ve applied to — and been rejected from — the Arts and Letters’ Dean’s Fellows twice.
- When discussing why I moved off campus instead of being an RA, I always say that I wanted more freedom in my senior year and my (now) roommate and I decided staying on campus wasn’t the right choice for us. While this is true, the evening that I was planning to withdraw my application, RA decisions came out first. I was not selected.
With the exception of only my closest friends, in the case of each “failure,” I told no one. I didn’t post on social media. I didn’t share during my seminar’s beginning-of-class check in. I didn’t take out an advertisement in The Observer. Each time I felt that I fell short of expectation, I kept it to myself, certain that I was the only person who wasn’t winning an internship or cinching a spot on the latest roster of super scholars. Even writing this column, I feel naked, exposed and certain that the whole school will think less of me because I didn’t make it past the callbacks for an a cappella group sophomore fall.
And while I’m not suggesting we suddenly talk about our shortcomings with reckless abandon — certainly, even I, a person routinely compelled to confess all to the student newspaper, have rejections I’d prefer not to publicize — I do think we need to remember that the shiny narratives we hear in the dining halls and the congratulatory stories we see on Snapchat are only one very small tip of the iceberg. Whether you’re an underclassmen feeling like you’re the only person left in your dorm who hasn’t done research or an upperclassmen stressing that you’re still unemployed, it’s easy to feel like you’re the only person coming up short.
But I guarantee you: You are not the only student who has been regretfully informed that they weren’t successful in earning a spot. You are hardly the first to drop out of a workout plan or earn a lackluster essay grade. And while I could offer the cliché that with nearly every activity on the list I was rejected from, I was led to a different opportunity that was a much better fit — and it’d be true — the bigger truth is simply that you’re going to fail. You’re going to mess up, and sometimes it won’t matter in the grand scheme of things, but sometimes it will. And it’s going to suck. But if it makes you feel any better, everyone else is messing up too. They’re just not posting about it on their LinkedIn.
Julianna Conley is a senior studying sociology and pre-health studies with a minor in Journalism, Ethics and Democracy. Though she is forever loyal to Pasquerilla East B-team athletics, Julianna now lives off campus. She can be reached for comment at [email protected] or @JuliannaLConley on Twitter.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.