Graduate Series - Rejection leads to re-strategizing

My entire life I was convinced that I would be a doctor. When you’re young, there are few career paths that immigrant parents teach you: doctor, lawyer, engineer. In my case, add economist to that list, because many African countries like the Democratic of Congo (DRC), where I come from, being an economist is often the only way towards wealth because all of our political leaders have gotten their power through being economists or being related to an economist who puts you in a position of power. For me, being born in the DRC, becoming a doctor was the only way that I thought that I could help vulnerable populations in my country. Well at the time, I also thought that anything with the word ‘business’ was linked to economics, which linked to greedy politicians who were at the root of the poverty in my country.

Fast forward to my final year of undergraduate studies at the University of Waterloo, where I received my first rejection letters from all five canadian medical school that I had applied too. I had two consecutive nights of anxiety attacks around 3a.m, I will never forget that. I refused to entertain the idea of a God ever existing, because why would he deprive me of pursuing such a noble career that would allow me to impact so many lives. I felt lost, without knowing what direction to take with my life. What many do not understand about choosing a career path like medicine or law, it is not something that you decide overnight or choose as a backup plan. Well, this is the case for most people that I know. Pursuing medicine is a long life journey, especially in Canada where we only have 17 schools, the competition is so high to get accepted. When facing this rejection, it was the first time in my life that I had ever been rejected. It was a horrible feeling. My whole life I had put my confidence, identity and worth in knowing that my years of interning with established institutions like the World health Organization, would lead to me getting accepted to medical school.

While feeling lost, I reached out to my supervisor at the World Health Organization, Dr. Muyembe, a man who is so bright that he is the genius behind the first strain of ebola being cured back in the old days. African scholars never get recognition for their wisdom, a topic for another blog post. I am a firm believer that it is important to have mentors in your life. These are people who have achieved a certain level of success in their career or personal journey, that inspires you. To echo Sheryl in ‘Lean In’, I think it is even more important for women to seek mentorship from men (not just women), a topic that I will tackle in a later post. Dr. Tafum advised me to pursue a career in global health, within public health epidemiology. So, I did. I got accepted into my master's in Public Health program by the age of 23, where I got to make so many connections, had so many doors open in my career, to even speaking at a TEDx talk. All of this to say that, if there is one thing that life taught me, is that life is not a straight-narrow path. Sometimes it is okay to readjust the wheel, and go a different direction. Along the way, new opportunities and doors will open, that you would have never imagine.

I write this during a time of a lot of uncertainty in my life. But, I always have to remind myself that things will eventually turn out greater than I could have ever imagined. When graduating from #University no one prepares you for dealing with #Rejection . Even as an aspiring young #Entrepreneur , you continuously face rejection. This is part of life. What matters most, is your ability to keep your head up, don't take it personally, slightly pivot your objectives and look straight ahead towards your long-term end goals.

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