It’s been a month since I found out I got cut from every SLG I rushed, and I’m still not over it.
And when I say cut, I mean my dreams of SLG life were sliced and diced before Round Two even began. As the designated title holder of “Most Emotionally Stable Person at Duke,” I naturally underwent a series of entirely reasonable reactions.
Upon receiving the email with my final rejection, I stared blankly at my screen for a couple of seconds, before slamming my laptop when I realized that I could no longer read anything through the fat tears in my eye. Then, the hyperventilation began with little huffs of shallow breaths that became faster and faster as I paced more and more across my room. Pillows were screamed into, and at one point I kicked the ground so hard that I broke off a toenail. While I don’t wish to recount my entire panic attack in grave detail, I will note that it culminated in me dramatically sliding down a wall and crying out “why me?”.
Give me my Oscar already.
I’m not going to name-drop the SLGs I got rejected from because I don’t want anyone to wrongly believe that I’m demonizing them. Rationally, in fact, I agree with the potential reasons that I got cut. I was not committed enough to (and actually a bit pessimistic about) one SLG I rushed, and I was too committed to (with a bit of an overbearing personality) the other SLG I rushed. Rationally, I can assume why I got rejected without claiming to have experienced any unfair or malicious treatment.
But this is not a rational article, and the process of processing social rejection often lacks rhyme or reason.
During the first week of SLG Rush, I told everyone that, “No matter what happens, I had fun, and I won’t regret this experience.” I repeated the phrase like a mantra, but I forgot it like a dream. When I got rejected, I was immediately inundated by an immense desire to turn back the clock and never put myself through rush in the first place. There’s something viscerally humiliating about pouring your heart and soul into a process, only to finish with the bitter taste of disappointment. I made an effort to establish common interests in each conversation and immerse myself in the social atmosphere of each event. I pushed myself to attend every gathering with full energy, to the point where I lost my voice and developed a high fever from the late, taxing nights. I departed from the end-of-week-one bashes with new friends in tow, feeling like I had finally achieved the form of social acceptance I had been craving since freshman year.
I didn’t even make it past Week One. When your entire friend group is rushing one SLG and you’re the only one that got cut, it feels like you’re the dispensable one, the one that no one would miss if you just vanished. When you’re one of the few not to be accepted into Week Two, it feels like you’re unlikeable and unwanted. These feelings clung to me like a dark leach when compounded with my lost DSG election and other instances of social rejection. I felt like I had been voted out of Duke and every glance thrown my way was just further proof that no one wanted me here.
While learning to cope with those irrational thoughts, I had to keep myself busy by throwing a funeral for the friend group I believed I lost. I mourned the days of spontaneous study sessions, the Friday and Saturday nights where we would go out together because we had nothing better to do. Rationally, I’m thrilled that my friends received this incredible opportunity to attend a variety of SLG events whenever they wish. Irrationally, I feel like I’m slowly losing them. I know that new group chats without me have been formed and that most of my friend group now holds a commonality that I lack. And when we do hang out together like we used to, I can’t quite shake the feeling that I’m an afterthought, a replacement for the SLG event that didn’t occur that day.
I’m afraid that their SLG will eventually tell them the reasons why they rejected me in biting detail or that my friends will mention me, and those in the SLG won’t even remember that I existed. As someone who thrives on positive attention, I can’t tell which one’s worse.
I’ve isolated myself in the past month to cope. I can’t hear people talk about SLGs without wanting to cry, so I’ve removed the opportunities to do so. I can’t hang out around my friends without that lingering feeling of being unwanted, so I limit the amount of time with them. Yes, the isolation only perpetuates the loneliness that reinforces my isolation in a cycle that may be outwardly unhealthy, but there’s something comforting about shifting the narrative so that my being alone is a deliberate choice.
My mother told me to treat this rejection like a blessing in disguise, and I’ve been learning how to. Without the pressure to make time for social events, I’ve devoted more energy to my academics and extracurriculars. Throwing myself into new projects and long-form assignments has grounded me in the real reason I came to Duke: to graduate and move on to the law school of my dreams. Everything else is just noise. It’s a toxic mindset given how much I criticize Duke’s grind culture, but I’ve come to appreciate any method that works to distract from fixating on what my SLG rejection really means.
Getting cut from an SLG isn’t the end of the world, and this article isn’t making some big, sweeping statement about an injustice I faced. But I’m a gushing, open wound that’s sensitive and vulnerable to the world around me. Hopefully, in putting to words the ineffable emotions I’ve been facing for the past few weeks, I’ve shown to at least someone dealing with a similar rejection that they’re not alone. At the very least, I hope to finally put this behind me as another tale of failure at Duke that I’ve overcome.
Viktoria Wulff-Anderson is a Trinity sophomore. Her column typically runs on alternate Thursdays.
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Viktoria Wulff-Andersen is a Trinity junior and the opinion editor of The Chronicle's 119th volume.