The added wrinkle is that my son Zach did not get into any of the Doctorate programs he applied for….

I realize it totally bites and that for the most part it’s a beauty contest in terms of getting into some of these programs.

The reality is that this past week has seen his inner strength and resilience tested to breaking point.

As many of you know that read my weekly essay, he’s recently graduated from his master’s program at the Australian National University in Canberra.

Late last year, prior to graduation he applied to eight Universities in the United States for entry into their Doctorate programs to study history.

His objective is to become an academic historian and professor.

This week he received notification that he has not been accepted into any of the programs.

As you can imagine the news has been devastating.

He was as low as I’ve ever seen him, and that is saying something…

Rejection is hard on any of us, but when you are predisposed to severe anxiety and depression then the resultant outcome is amped up considerably.

It took him a couple of days for him to want to talk about it, but Judy and I have been patient and let him engage on his terms.

As you expect with a genuinely intelligent young man he realized soon after receiving his first rejection that the others would likely follow.

His plan B has been to apply to a number UK schools for an additional one-year master’s program, so he can add this to his already extensive resume and apply again next year.

As I related to him, this was all meant to be for a reason.

Although we’re unsure as to why at the moment, this will give him the opportunity to gain another year of experience and learning to take into the next application cycle.

This has tested him in a host of ways.

Firstly, this form of rejection on a grand scale can shatter one’s confidence.  Secondly, it takes away your hopes and dreams without any form of recourse and finally it leaves you with an emptiness that you think will last a lifetime.

What I’ve been most proud of has been his inner strength and resilience to rebound from this setback.

Until now I haven’t seen this level determination to press on and lean into his dreams the way he’s demonstrated these past few days.

He has lots of support for his plan B.

In fact, Judy, and I in Australia, plus his sister Sam and mum in Canada all came together to help him get his next round of applications ready to go.

We helped him modularize his responses to the various sections within the applications so that he could craft them in a way that was true to who he was.

Over the course of this past few days, he’s been able to submit four applications and is continuing to finalize his Cambridge University one.

This one is a little more in-depth, but he still has another month before the deadline so he’s feeling confident that he’ll get through it and apply well before then.

One of the schools he’s applied to is where Sam is going to be studying in September (University College London).

Ideally, he’ll get a spot in one of the London schools so they could potentially share an apartment.

I think they’d both like the opportunity to spend time together.

This added wrinkle, although painful has tested his resolve.

If all else fails, this next option is to go teach English as a second language in Japan or China as he preps to submit in the next cycle.

I know that isn’t his ideal outcome, but he’s being pragmatic about his options while keeping his dream alive.

We’ve all been there in some way over the course of our lives.  It’s times like these moments teach us lessons well beyond our comprehension.

It’s only with this perspective that we can look back and nod approvingly that this was the best thing that ever happened.

I see it as one of those forks in the road or turning points in our lives.

You can either choose to quit or stick to your dream and take another path to get there.

I’m glad he’s chosen to take an alternate path because I know that we he does graduate from his doctoral program he’ll be better off because of the journey he’s about to embark upon.

In the grand scheme of his life this added wrinkle may very well be the best thing that ever happened to him, albeit painful at the time.

Perhaps I’m just the eternal optimist, but like you always look at the glass half full rather than half empty.

Bringing a positive outlook changes the complexion of the entire situation.

No longer do you feel down and depressed but have a host of options and possibilities at your fingertips.

He could give in to the added wrinkle and quit, or he can take what he’s been given and turn it into something positive.

Ultimately the choice is his…

All I know is that nothing is guaranteed, and that if you want to achieve something badly enough, you’ll ultimately find a way to make it happen.

Until next week!