Disappointment CAN Teach Lessons

Next Tuesday is the Rall Symposium here at North Central College. It is the honors and independent research event that is put on here every year. Earlier in the academic year, I’d been avidly working to get a grant to do personal research. I’d have travelled around the country meeting the leaders of the agriculture in social media movement. The farmers I would have gone to visit are all actually now heavily involved in a not-for-profit organization known as the AgChat Foundation. I didn’t know about the Foundation at the time of my early research and proposal, as it was on lock-down until the Foundation’s official launch.
Personal life caught up with me. Or maybe just life in general. My first attempt at getting the grant was rejected, and I had to face the reality that I have too many irons in the fire. I needed to focus on me, my health, and surviving college with decent grades. I mean, internships, classes, and my other job(s) are hard enough to balance. I had no right to try and pursue this great opportunity when my GPA is the lowest it’s ever been!
If the research plans had worked out, I’d be presenting at next year’s Symposium.
Working in the school’s Marketing and Communications Department, I’ve been heavily-involved in a lot of the Rall Symposium prep work. I’ve been so busy lately that I didn’t get to stop and realize how bittersweet it is. I’m sure at this point in my life I couldn’t have handled the project, but it’s also a bit disappointing that on the 3rd Tuesday of May 2011, I won’t be giving my presentation.
Things could be worse. I could be losing my mind right now over a project that I just didn’t have the time, resources, and focus for. I could have let down some great people by getting in too deep and messing up what would have been a well-intentioned project.
There’s a lesson here. You can’t have everything. You can’t please everyone. You should never give up on your dreams, but you should be able to sort them into importance. The research trip? It would have been a wonderful opportunity. I’ve gotten to know the people I was going to be working alongside in my travels, and they’re all wonderful people. If I hadn’t had the dedication to approach them and talk to them about this project, I probably wouldn’t know them as well as I do now, and I’d be missing out. Someday, I might go visit them without having the excuse (or distraction) of a research grant.
Overall, I think the rejection of my project was a blessing in disguise. In the months following the rejection, I’ve definitely come to terms with the fact that a steady job, and internship, freelance work, and classes are enough to keep anyone busy (even someone who jokes that sleep is for the weak). I don’t think I necessarily “lost” any great opportunity anymore. I was just handed opportunities in different forms.
So, am I a little disappointed to sit here coding HTML about an event that I dreamt about partaking in? A little. More than anything, though, I’m grateful. I’ve learned a lot about my personal boundaries as far as stress and time-management, and I might have never seen that clearly. Besides, there’s time for me to do work and research for the rest of my life. I don’t need to stack all of it on in my four short years here in college.

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