When Rejection Strikes

By Oliver Suckow, Reporter

If you’ve spent any amount of time on TikTok, you might be familiar with the name Axel Webber. The 22-year-old up-and-coming actor exploded all over the internet shortly after moving to New York City in hopes of attending The Juilliard School of the Arts. 

If you’re not familiar with him, Webber uses his platform on TikTok, as well as YouTube, to document his life in New York. Mainly, what living in a 95 square foot apartment looks like. 

A few weeks ago Webber took his TikTok followers through the intensive journey of applying to Juilliard: virtual auditions, practicing lines, and sadly, a rejection letter from the prestigious school. The rejection seemed to hurt Webber’s fans just as much as it hurt him, as thousands of accounts flooded Juilliard’s Instagram account with comments such as “LET AXEL IN” and “JUSTICE FOR AXEL.” 

Webber hooked his fans in on the hope of being one of the select few to get into the prestigious school, and it was hard not to root for him. He put his all into making the cut, living out of his car to save money until he eventually moved into a shoe-box apartment. After all of his hard work, and countless struggles, all he got for his effort was a rejection letter. 

With college acceptance letters flowing in from schools across the country for Lane seniors, this feeling of being rejected might not be so foreign for some of us. 

But just like Axel, even if you were rejected from a school you were hoping to get into, that doesn’t mean that everything is over for you. Everything is going to be okay; there is a school that is going to accept you at the level that you’re at and that is going to nurture your growth into an adult every step of the way. 

Everyone has felt the sting rejection leaves behind at some point in their life, whether that be with college admissions, not getting a job, or being turned down by a crush.  Rejection is a universal part of growing up. Attempting to get used to the slap of rejection does not make it any easier. Webber’s journey is a reminder that even if you play all of your cards right, sometimes things just don’t end up in your favor. 

The heartbreak didn’t stop Webber; he had no interest in quitting after all the tedious hours spent rehearsing and all of the roadblocks he faced along the way, so he kept on moving, looking for new opportunities to rise to the top. 

The highly-publicized rejection didn’t deter Webber from furthering his career in front of a camera. Shortly after his rejection, The New York Times released an article on Webber’s fans’ crestfallen reactions to being rejected by Juilliard. After the Times’ article piqued their interest, The Society, a modeling agency, reached out to Webber to offer him a job. While this isn’t the auspicious acting role Webber was striving towards, it was a welcome opportunity to bask in the spotlight, and he accepted it in a heartbeat. Just like that, Webber was able to turn this insurmountable negative into a vastly positive one, because of media presence. 

Webber, who was homeschooled up until high school and then got an undergrad degree online, is proof that the career field around us is changing. Despite receiving a modeling contract and becoming an internet sensation, Webber had no formal training as an actor. Webber is living, breathing proof that the path your education takes does not need to define who you are.

The role education plays in our society is ever-shifting, and seems to be changing even more as young adults push the boundaries of what was once seen as the “norm.” The young people influencing the job market have made it easier than ever before to pursue what you are truly passionate about and not the job that society tells you that you should have. 

Just like Webber, never limit yourself to what you feel your job has to be, follow your heart and pursue something that you are truly passionate about. You are the only one that can make your dreams come true and your life worth living. College acceptance letters certainly don’t define who you are, so keep your head high. 

As many of us Lane students are preparing to go to college in the upcoming months (or years), it is important to remember that whatever school, major, or field of study you choose doesn’t limit what jobs you can pursue in the future or what opportunities you can follow. It is never too late to follow your dreams, even if they are non-traditional ones. Many people decide to change career paths or even go back to school to learn something they are passionate about. 

Don’t be afraid to be like Webber, and take a leap of faith in something you’re passionate about. Just remember, change is okay, and sometimes failure is inevitable. It’s part of being human.