I have found a pattern in my life where being waitlisted has become a common theme. Besides receiving the confusing letter from one or two colleges back in high school that said “We like you, but not right now,” I have found the process of being waitlisted rather rewarding. I often reflect on this when I specifically think about on how I got into this class. I am a sophomore and had Jan Term travel registration the day after seniors and juniors, which meant I had a very slim chance of getting a spot. I waited diligently online to see the numbers quickly fill up, and in the next 15 seconds would I be faced with the disappointing realization that I would not get into this class. Even the waitlist was full, meaning that I wasn’t just “possibly not going” but “really not going…” I had to figure out a Jan Term Plan B (which I was not too thrilled about) and just drop the idea of going to Sundance altogether. But let’s face it, my heart was set on Sundance and I could not let go of it, which resulted in me randomly checking the waitlist when it was my turn to sign up for on-campus Jan Term two weeks later. To my surprise, a spot on the waitlist had opened up! And I thought I would put myself on the waitlist anyway, just because I would then have somewhat of a chance. Little did I know that my determination (and patience!) would get me into the best class of my collegiate career.
I came to Sundance as a sponge, absorbing all of my surroundings, all of the films, and all of the advice I was receiving. In the first couple of days, I waitlisted almost every movie just to see what number I would get. Some films, I didn’t even want to see but I felt I was in no position to be picky and not try anyway. Here, I embraced the mercy of the waitlisting system again, in which I was not promised or guaranteed anything regardless of how high of a number I had. One of the first films I got to see from the waitlist was Jennifer Siebel Newsom’s “The Mask You Live In,” which was not on my initial list of films I wanted to see but I thought it sounded interesting and was worth a shot. I am grateful that something inside me told me to go to this particular documentary anyway because it turned out to be extremely informational and inspiring.
The Sundance waitlist lines are not only crazy, but made me realize how the people in them are crazy, too. I believe these lines reinforce patience, understanding, and kindness in a festival where things can be easily handed to us, but not everyone feels the same way. I agree, rules of the waitlist lines should be followed and reinforced, but I noticed that people would get upset or impatient at the workers or other people in line who were not breaking any rules whatsoever. On the other hand, there were people in the waitlist line that would spark up a conversation with anyone, probably figuring that they are here for another 30+ minutes so why not talk to somebody. Well, that somebody always seemed to be me, because I have met so many interesting characters while waiting for the film itself. The first couple of times I waited in line, I got in to the show (a very rewarding feeling). However, there were also countless of times where I had waited, with my back in need of a deep-tissue massage and my body temperature above the normal degree, that I was turned away because there was no more room (a very defeating feeling). Like getting turned away from any waitlist, it would be easy to become bitter and not try again. Why should I come back to another screening and wait in line if there’s a good chance I won’t get in? Well, if I had this very defeated mindset, I would not have gotten into this class altogether.
It was an important learning experience to wait in a long line and be conscious of the time and of how many people they were letting in, even if it did raise my blood pressure. At the end of the day, Sundance is all about luck and chance, either it be getting into a film, seeing a celebrity, or meeting somebody who just happens to have a plus one ticket to an exclusive party (which I sadly did not experience). Nothing is guaranteed at Sundance, but what makes this experience so special is going out of your comfort zone and extending that patience and determination and trying anyway.