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And now, we wait.

As with coins, tickets, and stamps you fill in lost pockets of your backpacks, there are some ideas that become a part of you. It's there, just not seen enough, down to the point that you surprise yourself sometimes.

A strange transformation began as she gazed into the night sky from one of the most beautiful places, as she swam in a poor-lit pool. In tracing the silhouettes of large palm trees against the dark night sky, she was finding more than a silver lining. The air was nippy and the water cold, but she felt the warmest she's ever felt. Perhaps it was the distant echo of 'silent night' from the church nearby, she was warm with an idea that she wanted to make a reality.

Then, with a bit of doubt and bucketloads of hope, she returned home, opened the laptop hatch and watched as the insertion point blinks at her like an amber light on an empty crossroad. As her anxious thoughts pile up, she sighs and shuffles on her seat. When she comes to clarity, she types 'PhD prospects for Design Thinking.'Just like that, Google spews out everything and nothing in the millions. Whoever said googling is easy did not look very hard. Her plan was to begin at the beginning: one school at a time, one professor at a time, until she had with her a tangible list of intangible dreams. That's powerful stuff.

Each day, after work, she hurried through dinner to read. She reiterated to herself, 'Don't stop reading and writing until you've found all the answers.' Through an email here and a phone call there, combined with the motivation from loved ones, she got to the place where she had to write a story, but it had to be about her.

Questions about our identity and our purpose are feared by most. As she watched her life and actions through a lens, she often thought to herself - 'But this is my perspective, what if it isn't what I am.' It was hard. The perspectives we adopt are like trying on sunglasses at a store - rose-coloured or not, they never allow us to explore our true self void of all the environmental influences. Therefore, she always opened a diary and wrote something about herself, a little uncertain and incomplete. Until another moment of clarity comes, she continues to hope and pray. It does not stop her from writing nonetheless.

The remaining few months, humbling herself through crumpled up papers and possible introductions for a complete stranger, she recalled nothing more than what had transpired in the past few months, as she felt like she was repeating everything in her life, over and over.

It wasn't long before it was ready. To ensure no deadline would be missed, she arranged folders neatly at the top of her desktop so that they could be accessed quickly. It was all done like clockwork, she opened the application form, filled it out, checked it, attached all the documents, checked it all again, and nervously clicked submit my application. Despite repeated occurrences of this, she was unaware of the anxiety that lay ahead.

The wait.

There is so much drama that it almost makes Fiona waiting for Prince Charming look like a two-day affair. She was amazed at how distracted she became. Everything had changed and her constant gaze over all her devices had become normal. During evenings just before bedtime, she would grab her computer, open the application websites to the point of memorizing the unique passwords for all 12 accounts. She was only confronted by one message - Your application is being reviewed.

She continued this for almost 7 months until there came a point where she thought she was over all her obsessive behaviors. At that point, the decisions started rolling in.

After one week, she found herself checking the news again and again while simulating the different reactions she would have if it came through. The weeks passed with no announcement. While she waited, she indulged in some odd pastimes such as watching reaction videos on YouTube or messaging people in the same boat on Reddit. It helped until one day when it didn't.

At work, she walked into a friend's cubicle to share a coffee. While engrossed in their discussion, she indulged in a habitual glance at her phone to see an email message.

"Do you feel okay?", a concerned friend enquired.

"This is it.", she whispered as if a ghost had suddenly appeared.

Excusing herself, she left and headed back to her space. Her courage came from some hidden place again, and she pressed the see decision button.

Her world paused for what seemed like an eternity. Every moment seemed to align as she watched the worst unfold. No other words were read besides sorry. It was the first word in the letter mailed to those not accepted, and by the time she clicked the decision button for the 12th occasion, she recognized that failure stinks. At that moment, that was all she could comprehend. As it turns out, though, time is the other potion in the mix that allows us to think differently.

It was one year after that she realized she was committed to the wait. It was simply too much fun for her to learn, and more importantly she was in love with what she experienced no matter what happened. When asked if she would do it all over again, she replied: "This time, less anxious. I'd talk more about the journey than the destination because one thing is certain: neither I nor the reader knows where the journey leads."

P.S. My expectation was that I would write this at some point when it had truly dawned on me, but I am coming to realize that failure never really dawns on you. So, I guess that’s why I wrote the story as a third-person narrative, when in reality, it’s just another moment I've mined and milled from my own life.

If success is the road we travel, then failure is the tar we use to build those roads. - a cheesy quote from yours truly.


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