It’s What You Make Of It

I was always taught to fear rejection. Not by my parents, and not by my teachers, but rather by society’s expectations of competitive behavior between friends and classmates (particularly in high school). The movies always depict the main character being accepted to Harvard and living happily ever after, while their enemy doesn’t get in to their top choice school and is therefore condemned to a life spent bussing tables in their hometown’s diner. There are only two extremes presented, and one is looked down upon so fiercely that I actually began to fear that reality for myself; what if I didn’t get to go to my dream college? What if I disappointed my parents? What if I am deemed unworthy of a college education and have to *gasp* work instead of going to school? These hypothetical questions plagued all of my thoughts leading up until the day when most of my university acceptances were announced. That is, until these thoughts broke through the boundary of my mind’s musings and into the world of reality; I faced more rejection than I ever had before, and it crushed me. I had never felt so worthless, or so foolish for reaching too high.

Fast-forward to one month later: I couldn’t be happier. I have my college plan set, and I have an (albeit somewhat vague) plan for the future. When I was considering my final options for this video assignment, I knew that to help me finalize my feelings on the college admissions process and to help others change their perspective on the topic, I had to base my video off of the roller coaster ride I have taken over the past month. The video illustrates my changing views on applying for college, and how one of my worst moments led me to grow as a person. The fact that this shift in my thought process and the ups and downs of application announcements went by so quickly gave me the idea of doing a “Draw My Life” style video, where I would draw different film scenes and speed them up. The use of the whiteboard with one fixed angle gave me the opportunity to make the story behind the video seem as though it was happening in a very short amount of time, while the actual images being drawn on the whiteboard were rapidly changing and evolving.

In order to convey the emotional aspect of my video, I decided to leave the images black and white to avoid distraction and to focus on the mouth of my poorly-drawn stick figures as an indicator of how I was feeling in each scene. The mouth, in Western cultures, is generally used as a symbol to represent different emotions; the emojis 🙂 , 🙁 , 😀 , and :/ all illustrate this. Since I didn’t use different camera angles or lighting, I had to find another method of changing the focus of a scene so the audience could be clear on the message I was trying to convey. You will notice that if you watched a scene without the mouths drawn on the stick figures, it would lose much of its meaning. I also chose to only draw a mouth on the character representing me, while the others were drawn more ambiguously to represent different people who have been present during my rather stressful process.

This video focused mostly on my trials and struggles, but it is incredibly applicable to others as well. We, as a society, have created a largely name-based culture that tells people they can only be successful if everyone they see on the street would recognize the name of their University or employer. The title of my video, “It’s what you make of it”, brings in this idea very clearly. What you can achieve and what you want to do is completely separate from where life takes you in terms of your physical location. Your college acceptances, rejections, deferrals, and wait-lists are pieces of paper. Don’t let pieces of paper dictate your happiness and self-worth, because the worst they could be are set-backs. That is the message of my video, and although it helped me deal with my own healing process, I genuinely hope that it can help other students focus on what is truly important while applying to colleges and making decisions for their future.

9 thoughts on “It’s What You Make Of It

  1. “Your college acceptances, rejections, deferrals, and wait-lists are pieces of paper. Don’t let pieces of paper dictate your happiness and self-worth, because the worst they could be are set-backs” – very well said, Jamison, something incredibly powerful to remember, not only to high school students but to all of us! Thanks for the reflection, and more importantly, for sharing. I also loved the video, the “emojis” and the face-palms, especially. 😉

  2. OMG, this is so awesome – my life is better just because I viewed this. This should be viral and be shown to all incoming seniors. No one should be able to influence your self image. You are my new hero!!!

    • I’m glad you appreciated it! I think the message isn’t emphasized enough to students and although I learned that the hard way, I agree that others would benefit from hearing this BEFORE they go through the application process 🙂 Thanks for commenting

  3. I watched this b/c Mr. Grezesak’s glowing review & I am so happy I did! So happy for you, not just because you got into a fantastic school, but because you made this realisation so early. One life to live; make it great!

    • thank you so much, i really appreciate having you watch/respond. i’m glad the message has reached many in the SIS community 🙂

  4. In a word Jamison – Brilliant!!
    I love the progression of this from you with your head thudded on the table to the trite rejection letters (oh how they can crush you!) to numbers on a list to being ‘right where you’re supposed to be’. Fantastic soundtrack and I love your choice of medium to convey your story – it’s so personal and yet so involving for your audience too. And somehow the ‘cartoony’, jokey nature of the drawing makes the serious, difficult journey to discovering your true worth even more powerful.
    Isn’t it sad and mad and bad how we’re so drawn in by name and the status accorded by mere words? What you DO and what you learn by doing it is SO much more important.
    I admire your strength so much.

    • I’m so happy that the video was able to deliver its message effectively and that it was personal to the audience 🙂 thank you for watching and commenting!

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