Quote: “As I look back on my life, I realize that every time I thought I was being rejected from something good, I was actually being re-directed to something better.”
My colleague, Esmeralda, shared this powerful quote with me back in our third year at UCLA. I was going through one of the lowest points of my life as it was difficult to balance my work, family, social and academic responsibilities. Like many colleagues, I thought I did not possess strong qualities or skills to become a successful college student. Sometimes, you have to remember the bigger picture to be able to see a wider vision of our aspirations.
I remember when I would get frustrated every time I received emails from potential employment with responses such as “we received X amount of applicants and unfortunately we are unable to…,” you know the rest. I had received comments that said I was too young, inexperienced, and needed more time to nourish. I also applied to my first doctoral program during my gap year after I graduated from UCLA. Though I was not accepted, this rejection allowed me to relocate to a new state and embark on my journey to complete a Master’s degree. While I lived in Texas, I reflected on the ways I can improve and began maximizing my productivity so I can be at my best when I reapply for another employment or doctoral program. You have to reflect and enhance the areas you know you need to focus on. Why go to the gym and continue to work on your biceps and triceps when you know your legs are the problem that you need more focus and attention?
As many colleagues are finding out about potential employment and/or graduate school admissions, remember to have faith and patience. If you received undesirable news, do not let it define your self-worth and focus onto the next challenge. Those rejections will pave the way for something truly better. You will eventually climb to the top of your mountain but it will take time and effort. Once you get there, you will realize how much growth you experience and the number of challenges you will be able to endure.
Find a group of supportive colleagues to uplift and motivate each other. Reach out to people in positions you want to be in and ask them to share their experience or mentor you. Though construction criticism is great, do not solely focus on the negative remarks that pressure you or invalidate your potential. Do not lose your momentum, especially if you are applying to graduate schools, employment, internships, and/or other possibilities. Those moments of failure will become the seeds that will flourish into the right path towards success. I can truly say I would not have arrived at this point without learning from my mistakes and lessons in life in order to strengthen my areas of improvement.