“What will be different about me in six months?” I asked myself when I learned that I was the last candidate standing after a competitive search and that I would not be offered the position. I also asked close friends and mentors, “What will be different in six months?” Some sat with me and absorbed my disappointment. Others reacted with emotion that mirrored my frustration. While all of them met an emotional need I had at the moment, there were several who I considered very seasoned, objective onlookers to my professional speed bump. My mature mentors and partners affirmed my feelings of disappointment and rejection. In their wisdom, they quickly moved me into a discussion about a proper response to “no” or “not yet” because my take away from the competitive process was “probably never” or “not here.” They helped me change the narrative and my journey.
According to my mentors and partners, the next six months would be critical in my personal and professional development. They were right. At that time I thought that I understood more about myself and my circumstances then I actually did. The next six months initiated a process that helped me gain new understanding about the layered complexities in life that can distract, that can obstruct, and that can have the potential to develop the whole me. Once I processed the hurt, disappointment, and frustration, those emotions fueled the next phase – growth.
My six month journey to develop professionally inspired personal maturity as well. Six months seemed like a short window of time to achieve what felt like an intangible “thing” that I was lacking. Six months seemed like a long time to invest in doing what it felt like I had already been doing all of my life. Six months became almost a year-long transformative experience for me. I believed I was a life learner before the process began, but I learned that life lessons were layered. As an engaged student, I sought out and explored ideas, principles, and resources that enabled me to conceptualize the vast potential of my gifts and talents and how the same might add more to the spaces and people I aimed to bless and uplift. Six months did that for me and more. In six months, some old adages and cliches visited me. The voices of generations taught me why certain phrases have been repeated for so many years by so many people that we don’t know who said them first and some folks believe the words were first printed in the King James version of the Bible. Here are two phrases and what I learned in relation to those statements:
“Follow your dreams.” I know my passion and my purpose. I was pretty certain that I found the arena that fit my passion and my purpose. There were even days when I felt that I was “living the dream.” I was living what I have told students was the ultimate goal of a college student: 1. Figure out what you love to do, 2. Figure out if you are truly good at doing the thing you say you love to do, and 3. Find somebody to pay you to do what you are passionate about doing and that you are good at doing. In my opinion, that was the trifecta for success for living.
“Time is of the essence.” This cliche brought to mind another one: “Time waits for no one.” Disappointment and rejection did not play nice or fair. They knocked me to my knees. They opened some wounds and added a new dimension of emotional challenge to my life. Like a prized fighter who takes a knew after receiving a powerful left hook from the opponent, I heard the referee counting me out. Whether they knew it or not my mentors and partners became the cheers form the crowd commanding me to “get up” and fight on. My mentors and partners were awesome coaches who ordered me to get moving “now” and to let them be the ropes that gave me balance and support. They encouraged me to trust them to direct my course. As much as I preach trust and reliance on the village to my students and those I mentor, it was tough for me to apply my teachings to my own challenged life. My mentors coached me to stand in my brokenness with confidence and focus. Gratitude and humility comforted me because they cared enough to force me to “think quick.” I quickly adjusted my attitude and perspective. The competitor within rose up to thank disappointment and rejection for motivating me to fortify myself with new beliefs, new knowledge, new strength, and a larger village.
“What will be different in six months?” was at the foundation of the questions I asked myself and others for a number of weeks. A lot can change in six months and the truth is that you should not be the same six months from now. My job and living situation did not change in the six month period, but I did change. I hope that my audience will examine a situation that challenges them the most then delve into the challenge in a way that makes them stronger, smarter, and more confident in their own skin. I want my audience to find passion and purpose that is magnified by fighting through the things that challenge them the most. Finally, I want my audience to know that there are other lessons I learned through this almost year long journey spent overcoming disappointment and frustration. I will share those at a later date.