Friday, 20 June, 2008

Not the end of the world...

Yesterday a young friend of mine got a rather rude shock—she could not make it to her dream masters course. Poor thing, she was really upset, felt like the world was crumbling around her. I sat rather inanely trying to make her realize that her world is not coming to an end. From an observer’s perspective it was just one thing, which had not happened, she has her whole life before her and much better things are waiting to happen. I totally empathized with her, have gone through so many of these rejections and heart breaking sessions with my mother. It was then I realized that I was thinking and behaving just like my mom did whenever I used to face such huge disappointments. My mother would seem totally unflappable and unaffected and always tell me that it is not the end of the world or my life. She would continue saying that if things had not worked out, try to figure logically why it had not, what mistakes you had made, learn the lessons and move on, there is always something better waiting to happen. She always used to say that rejections and failures help us grow as much success does. I never understood that then, but yesterday while talking to my friend, I suddenly did. This realization felt really good, like I have unraveled some great mystery of life.
In my long rambling academic career I have had my fair share of rejections. Now there are various kinds of rejections. Like if you have given your entrance for some university or institute or even your NET in India and the results are out, you have to feed your roll number to the website and then suddenly the result comes. The minutes the computer takes to figure out whether you are successful or not is really gut wrenching. You die a thousand deaths waiting for the final pronouncement. But I think rejections from abroad are more sadistic. They send you this nice letter with such a lot of niceties that it takes two/three readings to get over the nice bits and get the real information which they mention at the very end, as if that is the most inconsequential bit and then they shower loads of wishes on you, which you do not want or care for. I can never figure out that if they do not want me why are they so concerned about my future. I asked our graduate secretary in the University of Toronto once and she said they say all that so as not to make irreparable damage to the student’s self worth with their rejection. Bullshit. As far as I am concerned these letters have a big damaging effect on my psyche. Every rejection is a huge blow, and polite words do not make the blow any softer. I rather refer the curt and short Indian method. Roll number matches—yes you made it, roll number does not match—no you did not make it. End of the result, then the agony begins.
But you know what at 30 years I have realized that one, two, three rejections hardly matter in the longer scheme in life. better things do come up, however much it may be difficult to believe right now and life does go on and in a month's time, a year's time today's rejection fades and dims. Then the next time you give advice to a friend in distress you realise that rejections in life did really help you grow. Ahem.

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