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January 14, 2013

The Good Kind of Rejection

Have you ever wanted something so badly you could taste it?  A dream so big that you could think of nothing else?  I’ve mentioned this before, and y’all may laugh, but I really wanted to be an astronaut.  Like, more than anything!  And if we’re being honest here, I kinda still would love to go into space and set foot on the moon.  But that’s neither here nor there!

Please ignore the Florida State hat I’m wearing… I was 15 and didn’t really know better ;-)

As I was studying mechanical engineering at Clemson, they began talking to us our freshman year about co-oping, Cooperative Education.  Essentially, it’s a long-term internship that’s completed over several semesters, but the difference is that you and the place that hires you are cooperating in your education.  So, we’d work a semester then go to school a semester, return to work for a semester, then come back to school.  Most people would do a 3 semester co-op so that at the end of it all, you would have been able to see the company in action in the spring, summer and fall.  AND, you came out of school with real work experience, which was super attractive to companies interviewing recent college graduates.

Well, as y’all know, I went to Space Camp for spring break in 9th grade.  Yes, yes I did.  My friends think it’s hilarious when I start a story with, “When I was at Space Camp…”  Ok, it’s kinda funny.  But it was SO MUCH FUN!  Yes, I was am a geek.  Anyway, after that week in Huntsville, AL, I wanted to be an astronaut more than ever.  And when I didn’t get into the United States Naval Academy, I thought that I could still pursue a degree in engineering and apply to NASA after school.  It was a brilliant plan, really.  So, when we started hearing about co-ops and that companies would be coming to Clemson to conduct interviews, I signed up for an interview with Delta AirLines and several other companies.  And since NASA wasn’t coming to us, I took it upon myself to send my resume and a cover letter to Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX.  I had my hopes up, but by this point, I knew about rejection and that it was always a possibility.  Plus, since I hadn’t interviewed with them in person, how could they REALLY know that much about me?? :-)

I had my company choices ranked on our dry erase board in our on-campus apartment and I really wish I had a picture of that!  As the companies called to either offer me a position or to let me know that they were “going in a different direction”, I would cross them off the list.  All I really remember about that list was that NASA was first, and Delta was second.  If I couldn’t work with space shuttles, why not work on airplanes?!?!  I still remember walking to the on-campus post office one day to check my (usually empty) mail box.  Except that this day, I had a letter from NASA!  How many people get to say that??  Well, as you can imagine, they were writing to let me know they would not be extending a job offer to me.  And while I was disappointed, I realized it wasn’t the end of the world and a couple hours later was laughing at receiving a rejection letter from NASA.  I knew it was a long shot, but I had to give it a try.  The answer is always going to be no if you don’t ask.

What ended up coming from that rejection though was something sweeter and more important than I could have imagined.  My second co-op choice, Delta AirLines, did say yes and hired me on (even though the day of my second interview in ATL, I got lost trying to get to the office and made one of the guys late for a funeral! Yikes!).  I was able to spend 3 semesters in Atlanta where I ended up growing up, a lot.  I began to figure out who I was without being in my Christian bubble at Clemson (Christian bubbles aren’t bad, but you do need to leave them from time to time!), I found my love for travel, I grew closer to some friends and made new ones that have had such a huge impact on my life and my faith.  The cool thing is that God could have chosen to do all of those things in Houston, but He chose to do them in Atlanta.

Between the rejection from the Naval Academy and the rejection from NASA, I took paths that I may not have otherwise taken.  But they were exactly where I needed to go and exactly where I was supposed to go.  I can’t imagine not having been at Clemson… for five and a half years (ha!).  And I can’t imagine not having spent three semesters in Atlanta with some incredibly wonderful people where I had some amazingly wonderful experiences.

All I want is for you to be encouraged on this rainy Monday.  Don’t be afraid to pursue your dreams and don’t be afraid of the word “No”.  You really never know where you might end up because of those closed doors.  I never thought I would be pursuing photography as my career… but had I not gone down the path I did, I wouldn’t have the knowledge or life experience that helps me run a small business.  I love my life and the path it’s taken and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

  1. Elisha says:

    Your so cool :)astronaut lady

  2. Taylor says:

    I went to Space Camp AND Aviation Challenge in Huntsville! Yes, I was just that cool. Hooray for nerds!

  3. ashley says:

    of course i love love love this post! glad you came and played around with us geeks for a while :)

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