Man, but being a now-not-so-recent graduate, trying idealistically to find a green collar job in a tourist town in the middle of a recession, because the job you have is temporary, the other job you have doesn't have the budget to give their staff more than a few hours a week, and the restaurants won't even look twice at you because you don't have any table-waiting experience--is tough.
So you turn to a year of service, only so does everybody else your age who is vaguely idealistic, wants to live where you already live, and can't find work any other way. And you can't quite compete there either--or maybe you can, because half of the problem is evaporating funding. And with all the advice you read about not wasting employers' time--it is hard not to get, well, frustrated, about that.
Performance in school is not the same thing as performance in the real world. I think there's a demographic of people, who take school seriously because we like to take the endeavors we do seriously, and school for the past 16 years has been our most serious of endeavors. In school, your evaluation of performance, your A, if you will, is yours, if you earn it. It's not somebody else's that you are taking away from them. And I definitely think grade standards have fallen in many places so that As are pretty easy to come by. Then you get an inflated sense of your ability, your talent, your potential.
Or maybe it's just a recession.
There are two ways to look at constant rejection. One is to take it as a marker of your real, post-school self worth. To lower ego, make you realize that you're not that great, and that you now need to re-evaluate your dreams and goals with a real idea of your potential and capabilities, which aren't very much. There's some kind of self-depreciating egoism in feeling that way. It's addictive, even.
The other is to take each rejection as a personal challenge to improve, to succeed despite all those people who "don't feel you fall into the pool of extremely qualified applicants" (you being merely a good one). Know it's not personal except in that it motivates you to remain personally dedicated to making yourself as awesome as you can be, to pull out all the stops, network like crazy, figure out what you can provide to them. And buddy, I want to be the best I can be, I know how to evaluate and correct my performance, and I know how to articulate what I have to offer. I not only can succeed, I will, and I will bring benefit to my employer.
The whole point of this is that I don't want to go to graduate school just because.