January was a tough month in regards to my medical school applications. I heard back from three more schools and sadly, they did not invite me for an interview. It felt like one blow after another, like the man in the arena, who is “face-down”.
Sharing the news with friends and family was difficult to do. I had a mixture of emotions ranging from feeling defeated, to feeling like a failure, to disappointment, to wanting to give up. But I learned lessons from my last rejection experience in November and did not entertain these feelings for long. I acknowledged them and then decided to look at the positive side of the situation:
- Rejection does not mean I am a failure: It is just a temporary glitch or bump in the journey and does not mean the story is at an end.
- Closed doors often have hidden blessings: I realized that by not gaining acceptance to those particular universities, I no longer have to worry about moving to another province. There are so many blessings where we currently live: a safe neighborhood, the opportunity for my children to learn French as a second language, and being surrounded by a great church community, friends and family.
- There is still hope: I am yet to hear back from one more university (my alma mater) in March and this is the closest medical school to where we live.
So, even though I had my “face-down in the arena” moment in January, I am picking myself back up and moving forward. I think it’s important to take some concrete steps whenever we feel that we have fallen so that we do not stew in our disappointment or despair:
- Preparation: I am practicing interview questions in case I get invited for an interview. Regardless of the outcome, it will not be wasted time because practicing to speak better is a skill that is easily transferable.
- Learning: I went through a few weeks of lack of motivation after my bout of rejections so I have decided to take an online course to keep my mind working. The course is in Global Health with a focus on Humanitarian Crises. Not only am I learning a lot from this course but it is helping me to keep things in perspective as I am reminded of the struggles so many people around the world go through.
- Writing: I am keeping a journal to document my thoughts and emotions more regularly. I had a habit of suppressing my emotions which was not healthy and journal writing has been therapeutic.
- Serving: I am grateful for the opportunities to serve and lead at my church through music and teaching. There are moments when it is nerve-wracking, tiring and frustrating but it has also been so rewarding and enriching and has definitely fueled my personal and spiritual growth.
Whatever challenges you are going through, do not despair. Those “face-down” moments can feel awful but they can also lead to great things and help us grow. Here is an excerpt from one of my favorite speeches that encourages me when I feel like I am struggling in the arena of life.
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat” -The Man in the Arena, Theodore Roosevelt.