My world history teacher, Mr.Cronin, wrote that as his parting words in my “history journal” after my reflection of his freshman year history class. At the time, I looked at it and laughed. Aside from being the typical emotional, pimple-covered, greasy-haired, braces-wearing 14 year old that I was, I was in fact, severely lacking self esteem.
And I stayed that way for a long time. Up until the last few years, actually. I always struggled with self esteem, confidence, and believing in myself. But somehow, along the way, I learned confidence. I retrained my brain to think positively about myself. And I believed in myself, despite the past mistakes I had made. (Academically, of course) So I applied to two of the most selective schools in the country and was rejected by both, making me question my dreams. Do I have what it takes to be a journalist? To be a writer, an editor, an editor-in-chief for that matter?
Maybe I don’t know anything about writing. Maybe I don’t know a thing about journalism. Maybe I don’t have the AP Stylebook memorized, despite my reading it. But I do know one thing. Any job that doesn’t pay much (and is known for its small salary, at that) requires passion. Determination. Perseverance.
My friend from my last high school in Florida graduated from our class with honors. She was accepted quickly into UCF along with the rest of our friends from our church group. She went to UCF with me and after college, became my roommate. She graduated from UCF summa cum laude, the highest honor. She sat on the platform above all the rest of us (including those of us that barely graduated, ahem) along with President Hitt, the doctoral receivers, and the graduation speaker. She got a Bachelor of Science in Psychology for one reason: to become a dolphin trainer at Sea World.
She started her job at Sea World as an Educator. You know, the ones floating around in the kayak saying things like, “stingrays only have one stinger to use for their entire lives” or “be careful not to aggravate them by banging on the glass.” That was her. Making a little over nine dollars an hour, even with a college degree. Dolphin training is evidently a job that is not one that people can just jump into; it is one that requires internal promotion, testing, and doing some of the “grunt” work. So I watched her every day go to work, talking about animals, lifeguarding at the neighboring water park, Aquatica, and still not able to reach that 40 hour work week like most of us do after school. She applied for and tried out for every dolphin trainer position that opened up in Sea World or Discovery Cove. And every time, the answer was always, “no.”
When I was denied entry into Columbia two weeks ago, she told me, “I wish there was something I could do to help. Let me know if you need anything!” I kiddingly told her, “Your platform, summa cum laude status would be great!” And she told me, “I wish I could! I don’t even use it.”
I repeated that conversation that was had over texts back t0 her last week when I saw her in person, ending with, “yeah, you DON’T use it! And I need it!” And she said, “Well actually…”
She had applied to the last dolphin trainer position that had opened up at Discovery Cove and was denied the job. When they told her why they didn’t give it to her, the remarks that they gave her upset her so much she almost gave up on doing it again. She was rejected so many times from trying to achieve her own dream, her own passion, and what she had been working so hard on for so many years. How many rejections can one person take before they just… give up?
Another dolphin training position opened up last week. And they called her to tell her that it was hers, if she wanted it.
How inspiring this was to me! I guess it turns out, with a lot of dedication, passion, over-coming rejection, and hard work, dreams really can come true.