An open-letter to potential candidates,
On an average semester, my job requires me to assess every situation in a case-by-case analysis. Whilst there are rules I must adhere to, to maintain a level of equality and balance towards the criteria through which candidates are chosen.
As I listen to your personal stories and why you deserve to be at the university of your choosing in the pursuit of knowledge.
Know that I understand, it isn’t the first time somebody would have lashed out at me in anger when faced with rejection.
Though I appear to be a stone-wall, behind that I want you know that I too was once a student.
Not a very bright one, not the most punctual, neither one filled with pursuit and vigour.
I too felt dismissed, and blamed my shortcomings on my circumstances.
Findings all the reasons I could come up with to justify why I wasn’t “doing well enough”.
Know that it wasn’t my wealthy family that got me into university, though they did play a crucial part in paying off my student debt.
Know that it wasn’t my ethnicity or charisma that got me far in life.
It wasn’t my battle with depression and anxiety that kept me from reaching my full-potential.
It was in fact my own failure to come to terms with what I needed to change, rather than hoping the world to change for me.
In the world of Academia, despite of what many assume is the usual case of dismissiveness, racism, or selective bias; know that I too am a human being, and I’ve heard all the excuses; because I too once made them.
Of how you’ve been rejected because you’re not “wealthy”.
Of how there’s a bias for “asian-students” and a clear discrimination against “all others”.
Of how you feel I judged you based on how you chose to “dress”.
Of how you expected I’ll prioritise you because we shared the same “religious beliefs”.
Of how your “facial tattoos” were the reason you got rejected.
Here’s a harsh reality, one that if you admit to now will bring you much more peace rather than collective hatred.
I didn’t reject you based on what you perceived as being dismissive, you weren’t chosen because you were simply “incompetent” in failing to grasp reality.
I rejected you because you too shared the same false sense of belief that you’re “the greatest”.
What you fail to understand is, as my historical records will show — I got rejected twice before being accepted as a candidate.
It wasn’t my race, my appearance, my taste in music, my choice in clothing, my gender, my sexual orientation, my family’s wealth that failed me.
It was my “attitude” towards being rewarded for something I did not possess at the time.
As such, much like yourself, I blamed the system — I blamed every other thing that I could find about myself to justify why I’d been rejected.
It was only later in time when I would meet a Professor, one who had the courage to not sugar-coat it for me; who simply reminded me.
“If you go through life pretending to be handed things to you because you feel disadvantaged, you’ll find rejection. Write something, Produce something, Take another hard look at your work and for once LISTEN”.
To this day I thank the Professor for her brutal honesty, in reminding me that I was blaming all the wrong people for all the wrong reasons; in my sense of misguided perception of my self-worth.
It was weeks and months of agony, as I struggled to come up with anything of substance on paper that made any sense.
“Tips on how to refine my Thesis”
“PhD Candidate Advice”
“Lectures on how to get a thesis approved”
“What it takes to pursue a doctorate”
“Thesis published by PhD Candidates”
Which finally got me “accepted”.
My race, my choice in music, my choice of clothing, my family’s wealth, my gender, had nothing to do with it.
How do I know that?
Because all along I never noticed, the application form didn’t ask me to volunteer the information I did.
It was “me” who made the choice all along to feel the need to mention my “race”, my “hobbies”, my “family background”, my “gender”, and my fight for “equality”.
The Professors neither asked nor cared for it.
I didn’t have any tattoos, I still don’t.
I don’t dress in my punk-rock jacket anymore with my matching leather boots, because I’ve grown older and as such I find a “suit” to be more fitting to the position that I’ve accomplished; and it’s not to establish a sense of dominance, it is to show respect to my peers.
I don’t have spiky green hair anymore, because it’s fallen off with age and I look more like a monk than a punk.
My hobbies still do exist, I still enjoy the same music, I still go to rock-concerts, and I’m not afraid to play the bass no matter how much I suck at it.
I just know that life isn’t a box of snowflake privilege, and that not every rejection I face in life is due to my perception of it.
Sure, there is existence of dismissiveness and bias; but not where I stand, because where I stand now is the realisation that life wasn’t going to hand it out to me just because I demanded it.
I needed a Mentor, much like the one that you despise when you view me, to knock some sense into me and realise not go through life demanding and expecting “respect”.
It had to be earned through hard-work and coming to terms with my identity.
Much love and Kind Regards,
“The Asshole Professor”, who you believe rejected you based on your facial tattoos.
Wish you all the best in life.