How long should you try for something you really want?
Years ago, I was sitting outside and reading the newspaper. We had a small sit out in the middle of the house with a metal pole as a support. I was leaning on the pole while reading and Amma was sitting on one of the two cane chairs we owned ( two similar ones for Appa and Amma). There was an article in the paper about someone getting Rhodes scholarship.
I distinctly remember telling Amma that even I would one day like to get a Rhodes Scholarship and become famous.
Amma responded in her typical style.. ” You must only dream achievable dreams”
Over the past 3 decades, I had often wondered if I was being over ambitious and if Amma was right.. Was I asking for more than I deserve?
When I graduated with my medical degree, I had hoped to work for WHO. I had no idea where to look for a job and had no one to guide me. Besides in those days my primary goal was to get out of my house before my mother and my older sister destroyed my life. So I ran.. as far as I could.
The next 25 years was nothing but a struggle for survival. While in Canada, I applied for so many jobs.. so many.. I never heard back from anyone. I remember someone from the church getting me an interview for an assistant job in a charity.. even that job I didn’t get. And I wondered again, if my mother was right..perhaps I was not good enough. Perhaps I was really useless. To survive, I started my own catering company and people laughed at me.. Doctor cooking food for others.
A cousin of mine works as a GP here in a group practice and I begged him for a job when I arrived here. His group practice was looking for a clinic receptionist. He told me to take off all my medical qualifications and apply for the job as a clinic manager at his clinic.. I was so desperate for a job, so I did. The thing is once you take off all my medical qualifications, I only have a pre-degree.. which was not enough to be a clinic receptionist.
A classmate of mine who did MPH with me, who passed both AMC 1 and 2 and still didn’t get a job as a doctor once told me, he stopped applying for jobs because he was afraid of opening his email inbox and seeing yet another rejection letter from prospective employers. Very rarely, I meet people who are incredibly smart and he is one of them. And I remember thinking, perhaps my mother was right.. even a brilliant doctor who passed the qualifying exams here has quit.
After I completed MPH, I applied for jobs.. never heard from any employers.. again I wondered if Amma was right.
The teaching job I finally got.. was the one I applied earlier and didn’t get.. the only reason I got the job was that the people the Uni hired quit and they were desperate for someone. I was at the right place at the right time. Technically, I got the job that I initially was not considered as suitable … again I wondered if Amma was right.
Years ago, while attending to a patient who attempted suicide and eventually died.. She killed herself because she was afraid that her parents won’t allow her to get married to her boyfriend..and while I was intubating her, I heard her parents wailing outside.. why didn’t she talk to us.. we would have never stopped her from getting married to who she wanted to marry.. and the chief consultant who had come to check my progress too heard the commotion outside and said something like this “sometimes people quit just when they are so close to achieving their dreams”
I didn’t want to quit applying for jobs. What if I was so close to achieving my dreams and will not get to fulfil my dreams because I quit too soon?..On an average, I apply for 12 jobs each month.. It is a time consuming endeavour. Having to suit the cover letter and selection criteria to position description. Each time I received a rejection letter, I wondered if Amma was right and I considered quitting.
I am a member of a Public Health organization and I thought I would try to attend one of their monthly meeting to network. It was boring and I googled the organization website to identify the people in the room by looking at the ‘about us’ section in the website..This was after I played two online scrabble games and won both rounds. I was that bored. While scrolling through the website, I noticed a job ad by CDC and the application deadline was the very next day. The application asked for a great deal of stuff and one requirement was that the resume should be 2 pages long. Mine is a professionally written resume with a great deal of different fonts and annoying formats.. much as I tried, I just couldn’t fix it and create a two page resume. So I called my son and asked for his help. It was midnight for him and he still did. Application was due at 12 noon Australian time and I sent it in by 11:50 a.m.
Few weeks later I received an email. I assumed it was the rejection letter.. didn’t even open the email to read it. (If you get a job interview, they usually call you)
That weekend, I was cleaning out my email inbox, So decided to read the unread email. Turned out that I was short listed. 200 people applied, 11 got short listed. Out of the 11, only 5 will be selected by the CDC after the interview.
The interview was in early January and I did not hear from them again. As I am so used to rejections, it did not bother me.
Last Friday, I received an email offering me the job.
It took 25 years..
My mother was wrong. All dreams are achievable.. all it takes is hard-work.
If you have wanted something, even if the world is against you, if you truly want it, don’t give it a deadline. Don’t stop because you have been rejected many times. Don’t stop. Just don’t stop.