I made the unfortunate decision to apply to graduate schools this year. Ever since roughly November 30th, when I submitted my very first one, I have been a wreck. I made a playlist titled “I keep getting rejected by grad schools” to cope, but the oddest part of this experience is that it has felt like dating.
I’ve never dated (so honestly, what do I know?), but listening to break-up songs when I get the rejections releases a very similar sort of emotion, I imagine. I just wonder if there was anything I could’ve done differently to get in to these programs, to attract them. For the ones who waitlist me and string me on, I wonder if the “other girl” is more charming, or smarter than I am. I hold onto their short emails that say I’m special in some way, even though I know they are probably telling all the other "girls" the same thing. This whole process has left me open in a way I’ve never had to be before, and I despise it. I've been given the speeches about cohort sizes being smaller this year, how I can't take it personally, and the like, but that doesn't mean it still doesn't hurt. I know that I can just try again next year, and I am not trying to be immature about it all because I realize it, but that doesn't mean I can't feel bad about it.
At any given moment, I am dramatically staring out a window--Bella in the scene after Edward has left and the camera is just spinning around her to the tune of “Possibility” by Lykke Li--or I’m laughing and dancing awfully to “I’m Not Okay (I Promise)” by My Chemical Romance. Either way, I’m exhausted. As a fourth year, I have been playing “Pomp and Circumstance” every other day. I don't want to be on the market anymore, I just want answers and closure.
I know my friends and family must be ready for this grad-school emotional limbo to be over as well, because it has becomes my default background thought process when I have nothing else to distract me. I just finished telling my best friend about how I envision Mr. Rochester as Abraham Lincoln and that makes Honest Abe a little hot to me now, but in the very next message, in all caps, I asked "WHY WON'T THEY LET ME IN?"
Music has been the only way for me to latch onto something that lets me feel the fullness of my emotions (and the Jane Eyre score slaps hard if you need to be sad). Lucky for me, this issue's theme is "music," and the Iris writers have delved into how music helps them navigate and connect to the world. Andi Sink's, "I'm Still a Teenage Rage Monster" dives into the culture and community of mosh pits, defending them against the criticism of the uninitiated. In "My Car My House My Thoughts," Katie Jane Villanueva offers a beautiful portrait of someone deeply invested in their own musical experience. In "Piano, Singing, and the Santa Dance: Finding What I Love," Chloe Lyda describes her journey through music into finding her own passions and talents in dancing. Kexuan Liu speaks to the emotional connections we can find in the comments section of certain online songs, in "We Are Intimate Strangers."
In Addison Gilligan's "In a Digital World: An Interview with Gwen Berthy," she engages in a deep conversation with the owner of Charlottesville's quirky record store, Melody Supreme, about how digital music has affected the beauty of "unknowing." Muntaqa Zaman's details anthropologically (and as a fan herself) how BTS's success has been received in Western culture, and contemplates the implications of that response in "Music and Identity Politics: How BTS Break the Mold."
Maybe you'll hum your own tune as you read through these beauties, letting the music of Iris give a lift and lilt to your day. Thanks for reading!