The Phases of Anticipation OR How to Avoid Snoman SMIOS

March 2, 2009 by Jen

Sustaining a high level of anticipation for a long period of time is something like trying to put clothing on a snowman. 

A scarf is manageable, and maybe mittens. But once you pull out the hat – and the wool socks – and the long underwear – and the turtleneck – and the overcoat – and the ski pants … well, the snowman goes into uncontrollable meltdown mode pretty quickly. (Earmuffs are the leading cause of SMIOS* among snowmen).
Waiting to hear back from colleges or graduate schools involves a lot of anticipation. But because of the innate meltdown effect we’re all trying to avoid, I’ve found that the anticipation goes through stages of intensity, looking something like this: 
Premature Hope
1 workday after the completed applications are mailed

It might come today! Maybe they’ll take one look at my application, scream “We must have this one!” and overnight me a check for a thousand dollars to convince me to accept. 
Blissful Oblivion
2 weeks after applications are mailed

It’s out of my hands! I’ve done everything I can do, and worrying doesn’t help anyone.
Pre-Deadline Panic
December 14, December 31, or January 14

What do you mean you never got my third reference? My transcript got lost somewhere over the Arctic Ocean? What do you expect me to do – send out another Robert Walton to find it? *Seriously considering the plausibility of creating a new transcript using MS Office.*
Momentary Lull with a Queasy Stomach
Most of January
Well, I won’t hear anything for a while, so I might as well forget about it. *Turns on the news.* Graduate school funding is at an all-time low as more and more Americans seek a way out of the troubled job market by returning to school– *Click.*
Personalization Frenzy
Most of January after TV is sold for $2.38 on Ebay

Hi, my name is — and I’m an applicant for your — program. I’d like to schedule a visit to your campus. Would you like one of my business cards? Be my friend on Facebook! I can send you an autographed supply of chocolate to hand out to the admissions committee…
Haunting of the Mailbox
Early February

See open apology letter to the USPS.
First Response Crisis
February 10 at 9:16 a.m. in front of the computer screen wearing jeans and a purple shirt that itched at the wrists.

What did I do wrong? I should withdraw all my other applications so I don’t waste their time too. Is Walmart still hiring? I’m never cheering for your sports team again! *Doggedly refuses to think about the amount of money spent on score reports, application fees, and transcripts.*
Return to Resignation
Most of February and March

Whatever. Another rejection? Oh, I’m making a quilt out of them, actually. I sent out a memo requesting rejection letters so I could make it king size. An acceptance? Probably sent it to the wrong person who just happens to have my name, address, email, and social security number. 
Looming End-of-the-Line
April 14

I STILL haven’t heard from two schools? I left them seven voice mail messages, three emails, and fifteen subtle text messages. I can’t decide until I hear from them. This is the rest of my life I’m talking about. Flip a coin. No, you didn’t flip it right. Do it again. What is the meaning of life? I mean really, I could make a lot more money writing bailout requests for the auto industry. 
Realization of Priorities
April 15

Take that, world. I’m going dancing.
*Sudden Meltdown Into Oblivion Syndrome
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