I didn't get the NSF fellowship. No, it wasn't some demented April-Fool's joke, I tripled checked the list for my name. Today I've oscillated between vague annoyance and bitter resentment, but thankfully this has little bearing on my future in graduate school. Contrary to popular belief, life is not all about the Benjamins. I also maintain eligibility for the fellowship this fall, so I can reapply if I wish. The experience wasn't a complete waste of time, however, as the NSF politely awarded me an Honorable Mention (read: better luck next time, sucker!). This is actually a nice distinction. It means I was in roughly the top 20% of applications, just missed that elusive It Factor, that hook.
Jeremiah, fellow first year, received one of the awards. He totally deserves it (though, so do I), but of course I can't help feeling a little competitive. This is how I imagined everything would play out. I assumed one of us, if any, would get it. Given the limits placed on federal research funding over the past few years, these organizations are left with fewer awards and growing applicant pools.
So today, I am the bridesmaid, the wingman. I am Barney Rubble and Fred Mertz.