Recently I have had to ask the academics I have worked for as a research assistant for references. I have been applying to research jobs because that is the skill set I have and I did not get into the professional program I wanted (although fingers are still crossed for the call to get off the waitlist). It has been really difficult to tell them I did not get accepted. Everyone was willing to help me by writing references for my application. I felt like because I did not get in I had wasted their time. Well, everyone except my supervisor that is. I felt stupid and like I could have done more, even though I really couldn’t have.
The email replies from everyone tell me a much different story. Their replies are full of support. They tell me they are sorry, but they also tell me that I am capable. This implies that they believe in me, and that this rejection does not define my abilities. They are happy to give a reference for me yet again. I end up crying after reading these emails because I am so relieved that they don’t think I’m an idiot and maybe they do think I’m an okay person and that they maybe even think I am smart. Growing up with emotional abuse kind of messes with how you imagine other people will react to situations, so when they react like normal good people I feel overwhelmed. I have this special folder in my inbox that I called ‘encouragement’. In it I save all of the emails that are full of support and that tell me I am capable. Lately, I have been reading these a little more often. I need that little extra push to keep going right now, to believe that I AM capable and I CAN make it through this setback. I think that for me, having this little collection really makes a difference when I am not getting the encouragement in my current supervisor situation. I hope that one day I can be in the position to send a student or someone an encouraging email like the ones I have, to give them something to help them keep going when times get tough.