Life tends to work in very unpredictable ways. Even if you feel like you are in a horrible dark hole, suddenly everything is reversed and the sun comes out.
Just 40 minutes ago, I received a very non-descript email, titled nothing other than “HSHSP 2014”. The High School Honors Science Program is a very prestigious summer program at Michigan State University. I had been pinning many of my hopes on this program, as I was looking forwards to a summer of research. Michigan is one of the nation’s most prestigious universities in regards to nuclear physics, a field that I was very interested in, and one that I was willing to pursue as a career. So when my phone buzzed that I had a new email, my mind was suddenly switched to full-adrenaline mode.
Opening up that email sorta ruined that dream.
To be fair, it was a very proper rejection letter. It was personalized, had flowing, looping signatures, official seals and proper documentation of all the wonderful positions that this program has been through. It was accomodating and formal and direct and just made me feel like a pile of feces.
I immediately began to flash back to all of the times that I have felt crushed by applications. Like history essays, I have had a history of failing spectacularly. I’d been rejected time and time again from these places that I put my full heart into. This new letter just seemed to be yet another nail in the coffin, another reminder to work harder.
But soon afterwards, I began considering all that I had written on this very blog in regards to failure. I started thinking about why I didn’t make it, and rationalized my thoughts. I tried seeing the situation from the viewpoint of those who were qualified enough to be accepted, and stoically decided to not give up. Giving up is easy in the face of hardships, but to persevere is to be strong. I plugged into my most motivational Macklemore music, searched up some inspirational quotes about staying hungry, and dived right back into my Math HL Practice Tests. Other people might try to find refuge in humor, I thought, but I will drown my emotions in hard work.
20 minutes later, I looked up from the sea of formulae to see my phone buzzing with another email. This email was far more enigmatic, stating nothing but a name that I had never heard of and a simple “Congratulations!”. Geez, what was it going to be now, another notification that I had “qualified to win ONE MILLION DOLLARS in our GRAND SWEEPSTAKES DRAWING!!!”? Or maybe it’s one of those Nigerian princes again?
Wrong. It was the Summer Science Program. I had just been accepted as a participant to study mathematics, physics, and astronomy for 6 weeks at New Mexico Tech, at the location of the Very Large Array radio telescopes.
It had been my dream to study at this location for several years; since watching “Contact” directed by Carl Sagan in middle school. I had imagined gazing at the Milky Way under the clear cloudless skies of New Mexico for years. It just..blew me away. I shot off like a firecracker to call my parents and to just celebrate.
Even in the post-acceptance euphoria, the dark mellow tones of my prior rejection were still lingering in my head. Like the words that I had just written, I still stayed resolved to not stop fighting. The world is not ready to open itself to anyone; it demands hard work and sacrifice. I couldn’t afford to stay celebratory; life is not made for the hard work in the valleys.
I’m glad as to how the world worked out for me. If the order had been reversed, starting off with success and ending in failure, I would have been much more likely to shrug off the latter as just a minor setback. Instead, right now, I am painfully aware of the struggle that is always around me. I vow to stay humble and to keep on working hard on my tasks and duties.
“Stay hungry, stay young, stay foolish, stay curious, and above all, stay humble because just when you think you got all the answers, is the moment when some bitter twist of fate in the universe will remind you that you very much don’t.” – Tom Hiddleston