Hello Beeple people,
Three months into the new year, Spring is here, and I hope you are well on your way to accomplishing what you set out to do for 2023, with conviction. And if you haven’t yet, this is your sign to get to it.
I have been meaning to write this piece for a while as I have witnessed the youth slowly take on the workforce more and more. I dedicate this to those who are growing up thinking some have it made on Instagram and Tik Tok, as we only reveal what looks good.
Know that it isn’t so.
Many show the good, the positive and in my case, the funny (or at least, I think it’s funny), and I am here to say that while those sides are true, they required time and work. And if they didn’t? then those constant victories are fake. That is, there are truths that are not shown behind the curtains. For example: the individual has a media and makeup squad to spruce up their posts, filters, a nanny, etc. and then pose as accomplished professionals. If they can sleep at night doing this, that’s on them.
Of course, I do the same in the sense that I share positive content to inspire or cast an uplifting ray of sunshine to whoever visits my IG page and blog. While I openly destroy my own accomplishments verbally all the time (and try to bask in a bit of glory here and there), it occurred to me that I never really shared some of my own major obstacles. As I was having apéro with a friend a few weeks ago, I was praising his musical abilities as he openly shared that the thing he hated the most was to practice. This surprised me, and then he mentioned “not giving up is one of the most underrated skills” and that strung a chord deep within me. I am all about not giving up.
Some people are naturally smart. I on the other hand am outstanding at not giving up.
Which got me thinking that perhaps disclosing of a failure with you and how I overcame it would counterbalance my sunshine posts and show the dark side of the force. Most importantly, it would demonstrate the underestimated value of valour.
Let’s start with a bang.
FAILURE : a certain university, we'll call it McJill, REJECTED ME.
*Audience gasps in disgust*
I know...It was brutal, I won't lie. Yet, I would not be who I am without that double slap, that set back, that FAILURE to make it through admissions. Yes, that’s right, I used the F word. The way I overcame this obstacle and adapted to find solutions gave me the chance to develop tools I still carry with me today.
Let’s set the records straight: I am a Concordian all the way (and have nothing against McJill, don't come at me with spears), but given McJill was the only university to offer the graduate program I desired, I ignored everything else and directed all efforts towards it. I was blinded by optimism, knowing the program only held about 27 places. I firmly believed that armed with my grades, letters of recommendation all written by highly regarded professors and a little luck, I would be admitted. Back then, applications were in print and to make sure it made it on time, I took no chances and, in the middle of winter, dropped my huge brown enveloppe off at the admissions office on McTavish Street (I curse that street every time I see it and avoid it to this day). A few weeks later, I got a letter in the mail and on it was something like this:
“While meritorious of the program, we simply cannot admit everyone who applies…”
Ouf, that was rough.
That meant that all those efforts and hard work did not suffice for me to make it through. The worst is the absence of a debrief in the aftershock you are left with. There is no phone call and no more explanation apart from the contradicting you deserve it but didn’t get it speech. I was left with so many questions:
I was discouraged and massively disappointed, but then, too determined to quit. I wanted to practice in psychology in one form or another and one cannot do so with a bachelor’s degree. Graduate studies were a must and I always knew I was going to push my studies further. I was not ready to enter the workforce, nor did I desire to interrupt my path. Most importantly, I didn’t want regrets i.e. “Perhaps if I had tried once more, I would have gotten in…”
In my quest to succeed, I unfortunately also found out that kindness and empathy was NOT a prerequisite in becoming a Ph.D. graduate. Many of the professors who were part of the admissions committee of some of the other universities I approached for advice, snubbed me and offered no guidance as to how I could eventually get through. One woman in particular shot me down quite tactlessly and I got so fed up, I challenged her merit:
“I see, and yet, you’re a psychologist?”
In other words, you are at this very moment destroying a student’s dream without mercy and yet even YOU made it as a psychologist. It was unbelievable to me that she was so high up on the social status horse that the primary skills of needed to be a psychologist, listening, and demonstrating care for the other person’s well-being, has nearly vanished.
Needless to say that the look on her face was priceless.
Something in me changed that day though. I turned my back to her office door AND the world of psychology. Or perhaps, its stupid politics and the way it was being run by contradicting concepts. I promised myself that I was not going to ever become jaded like that. If one day I could enter the world of graduate studies, I would handle it with care.
I gave myself time. Time to enter the war room and think of a strategy.
I decided to stay one year extra in my psychology specialized bachelors’ program. I would boost my grades, get extracurricular experience in volunteering for the Douglas Institution and spend an entire year in a laboratory research project. That was my action plan to spruce up my candidacy and continue learning as I applied to McJill’s Masters in Counselling Psychology program once again.
As that extra year began (2005), I soon found out a good buddy of mine (Hi Rich!), was also taking on the same research class and I convinced him to join the same lab I was in. We were great partners and were there every other day to tend to the rats and carry on the study (Olfactory Conditioned Partner Preference Blocked by Opiate Antagonist Naloxone – say that three times real fast). I also had the smartest research psychologists and veterinaries colleagues who were so kind to share their wisdom. I had a blast! Not only that, Rich and I got mentions in two publications which, for undergrads, was phenomenal. And after all this, I applied yet again to McJill’s counselling psychology program, walked up (damn) McTavish Street again and dropped off my brown envelope, on my quest to be a graduate student. How I longed to join those ranks…
Alas, it was not in the cards. Again.
And to make matters worse, the second time around, I found out on a Friday late afternoon after refreshing the page of my online candidacy profile one last time online. Careful what you wish for. I wanted an answer and I sure got one.
REFUSED. Black on white.
No explanations, reasons, nothing. Later, I got the same letter in the mail I had received one year earlier. This time though, I KNEW it wasn’t because I had failed at anything: my grades were good, I had more extracurricular experience and more letters of recommendation than the year before…so, it was my turn to cross McJill off my list. After all, I wasn’t about to wait for them to “see” me.
That summer, when I didn't quite know what to do with myself, I found out about Yorkville University, based in Fredericton, NB. It had just launched a new ONLINE curriculum in Counselling Psychology and I was just in time to apply for the fall. I was admitted upon first application. Back then, online classes were quite new and this journey launched me in being one of the first to complete graduate studies online in my entourage. I pioneered it and got so much out of that experience. It tested me in every which way. From writing my master's’ case to finding a supervisor that would take me under their wing. Never have I understood how our province is the exception to all the rest of the country in a deeper fashion. There was so much red tape and complicated details to assess as I wanted to make sure this degree would lead me to the door I wanted to open: being a Conseillère en Orientation. The road was so tumultuous that anyone who wasn't certain of their goal would have most likely given up or decided to "cut their losses" at some point.
Yet, to me, stopping meant I was giving up on my dream to practice psychology. So I jumped into the trenches armed with nothing but determination. Come what may, this was happening. I was going to kick open that door once I got there.
Giving up was never an option. I never even contemplated the idea. Not once.
Yorkville University’s curriculum is recognized by l'OCCOQ (Ordre des Conseillers et Conseillère en Orientation du Québec), and I successfully completed the Master’s degree. Yet, as time passed, I couldn’t help but ask myself what did McJill students who had been the “chosen ones” do differently? What internships did they have? What activities were they part of? I was curious...
One day, while the clinical psychologist who kindly took me in as his apprentice and I were hosting a small conference for the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association, we began with the famous ice breaker routine where everyone introduces themselves. To my astonishment, the two last attendees at the table were Counselling Psychology students from McJill University, coming to hear the psychologist, who was my mentor, speak.
Well I'll be DAMED! We have come full circle folks.
And THAT, my friends, is was what FAILURES are for. That is what OBSTACLES are for. If you really want it, and I mean, REALLY want it, you’ll put up with just about anything to find your way to it. It is but a question of time.
You can have a great support system (parents, friends, loved ones) who provide helpful resources, but in the end, it’s all up to you.
I graduated and moved on to my next goal and until I got all I needed to practice counselling psychology. Which I do, every day.
So, while social media glamorizes “the good life” and gets most people struggling to find shortcuts to success, you can decide to do the actual work to get to where you want to be. This means:
Mastering a skill takes discipline. Discipline means hard work. Hard work means not giving up. Think you can handle it? I am willing to bet you can.
I leave you with inspirational quotes that feed my own perseverance:
"La responsabilité est indissociable au pouvoir d’agir"
"What you don’t change you choose"
"If you have time for social media, you have time to invest the efforts in that dream"
-Ivana, the twice rejected black sheep of counselling psych program.
My name is Ivana. I love photography and meeting people. I hold a Master's in counselling psychology and work as a career consultant. Music is my fuel and an important source of energy in my life. I drive my vespa around the city and I love what I do! :) About this blog: me on my artistic soap box!
My first novel!
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