I recently found out that I was unsuccessful for my third attempt on getting a scholarship to fund my PhD. By recently I mean a week ago. Other things got in the way that distracted me from the actual fact, so it has taken a while for it to sink in. I think now it has. I got to say I don’t care half as much as I did about the last two rejections. It is also true that better things will be happening soon, but that does not take away the slight feeling of disappointment at the third rejection. After all, it’s just another small slap in the face to my research, so it should hurt anyway, right?
This confirms my intuition and the good move that working out a plan B was after all. The pre-emptive strike, the intuitive move of the already rejected twice, the wisdom of the experience, you can call it whatever you like. I’m glad I put a lot of effort on plan B, because I feel much less of a reject right now.
I know that this rejection is nothing personal. Eight universities, 54 scholarships, and many many graduate students – you do the math. I have never considered my mongrel to be of great quality or being able to change the world. But in the world we live in, if you study Arts and Humanities, you’re barely going to change a thing anyway. I am not presenting anything groundbreaking. My research is engaging in all ways possible, but my topic is very narrow, and it barely affects anyone from a British perspective. That’s why I was seeing it coming anyway. I just knew. But like a rite of passage, every January there goes my scholarship application, because, you know, if you don’t ask, you will never get. Funding bodies are wary of part-timers, and mongrels – there must have been a reason why we didn’t get funding in the first place.
I understand them, and I wouldn’t want to be in their position. Of course, this is something I understand now, after three years being unsuccessful: there was not a single person that could make me feel better or stop crying the first time around. Yeah, I did cry, a lot. I actually stopped cycling to wherever I was going. I stopped and got off my bike, and sat on the ground, in the streets, to cry my eyes out. I was actually sitting just outside the Hilton hotel whilst this was going on. Security personnel started to look at me weird. If I had told them what was wrong with me, they would have not believed me. Right now, if I saw somebody cry their eyes out like I did over something so trivial, I would slap them in the face. They say that when one door closes, another opens. It doesn’t really happen overnight or with the magic help of fairies. But if you try hard enough, another door will open. Just how much are you willing to work for that door to open, you must ask yourself.
In any case, this rejection now seems to me like an opportunity to excel in something else, and keep having a strong hold over the control of my PhD. After all, when an external body decides to fund you, you acquire both funds and an additional supervisory eye looking over what you do. I can see how that can be stressful. On the other hand, I would tell those people who are being watched by the Big Brother of their funding bodies that they have all the time in the world to make things happen. Time and resources. Which is exactly what we, the mongrels, lack and yearn for. I believe I am now granted with yet another opportunity (and a reason) to show the world they were wrong about me. I really do not feel like a reject. I have accepted to deal with rejection and take all the positives I can from it. Every year I get closer to the perfect funding application. One of these years, you never know, I might actually finish without funding. And wow, what an exciting challenge that is.
So, my dear mongrels, be resilient. Stay positive.