It’s true what they say about darkness and dawn

Let me take you back three years. On May 11, 2013, I graduated from the College of Charleston. It was a Saturday, and I was set to start my first chemist job that Monday. It wasn’t the best job in the world, but it was something. And only one month before, I had been in a very hopeless place.

Job hunting is never easy, but it’s especially difficult when you have no experience. And it seems that no matter how much you apply and no matter what you apply to, you never strike gold immediately. It takes a long haul of hard work and grim rejection. Then, everything starts to work out.

In April of 2013, I had spent 4 months applying to nearly 60 jobs. I only had one interview for a real job, and one interview for Disney World. But within the span of two weeks, I was given a windfall of good news. I was offered jobs from both Disney and that other job. I was offered an interview from MUSC. I was offered an interview from another chemical company called MeadWestvaco. I was given the opportunity to apply for the job I have now.

That cliché about “when it rains, it pours?” Yeah. I learned three years ago how true that is.

But there’s something that dawned on me today as I not only secured my first paying gig for my video company, but a second lit mag offered to publish a piece of mine (yes – two in one week. I’m as surprised as you are). It’s not just a fact that good news tends to show up all at once. It’s also true that good news seems to show up when we need it the absolute most.

I’ve been submitting to magazines on and off since last July.  I did this idly, just to say that I’m putting myself out there. I was not hurt by rejection. I was a little bummed to see that – as of now – my work has made it to the “final round” of judging on five separate occasions but still no dice. Still, I knew that my submissions attempts were largely sidekick to my novels and other large efforts.

And then, as time passed and outside forces weighed in, my anxiety started again. I’ve been pretty open about it these past few weeks. I’ve had acute moments of “what if this isn’t any good?” before, but I can’t remember having a full month or two where I really worried for my future. This is probably the darkest things have gotten for me, even pushing me to the thought of “maybe I should give up writing.” I thought, mind you, that I have never had before.

Then the good news showed up.

When I think back to 2013, my final semester of school was equally dark. I worried for my future then too. I wondered what I would do without a good job – or any job! – to support myself. I needed to move out on my own. I worried what would happen if Austin and I ended up in different cities. There was so much fear bred by uncertainty, and that fear only bubbled the closer I got to graduation. And by April, I was a nervous wreck. I only had a few short weeks to get my life in order and nothing was working out.

Then the good news showed up.

It’s almost as if it waits in the shadows for those lowest moments. It tests us, asking us to keep hope even when things are most dire. Could things have become worse for me had the good news not intervened? Perhaps. With enough rejection, maybe I would have given up writing. But back in 2013, and now, there seems to have been an ebb and flow to my concerns. Just when I start to think “I am seriously worried”, the tables turn.

I don’t need an explanation for it, but I thought I’d offer it as an uplifiting observation. That if you’re at a low point right now – in a place of anxiety and rejection – good news may be fast approaching. Like I said before, persistence tends to get results no matter what order you do things in. If you do something long enough, you’ll be impossible to ignore.

12 thoughts on “It’s true what they say about darkness and dawn

  1. Yeah, it’s funny how things work out. One minute, everything seems to be going into the dumper and the next, you’re popping up through the crap smelling like roses. The really positive part of all this is that you didn’t give up and continued to create opportunities for yourself. Well done. :)

  2. Love that last sentence. Sometimes when something good happens to someone, others call that person ‘lucky.’ But it’s rarely about luck. It’s usually about persistence, dedication, and a lot of hard work.

    • I think luck only goes as far as privilege does. I am lucky to have been born white and middle class, and in some ways I’m lucky to have been born a woman (I have benefited from a few of the counterbalances we’re given in the publishing and tech industries). But when you compare yourself to people who are on the same opportunity level, you can easily separate the hard workers from the people who are only half in it. Most successful writers I’m friends or acquaintances with are living examples that busting your butt, putting yourself out there, and making yourself impossible to ignore are the truest keys to success. I’m sure all of them are very talented too, but few are “exceptionally” talented. Most of them just know what they’re good at and didn’t give up on themselves.

  3. Congratulations once again! I would have to agree with the sentiment behind this post, having similar experiences with both school and my job search experience… I consider myself a religious person and have always been told that God only gives us as much as we can handle, often throwing amazing opportunity at us when we’re at our lowest. No matter how you look at it, it’s wonderful all of your hard work and perseverance has been paying off!

  4. Great to hear of your progress, Michelle! 100% agree. Like that fish said in that one Pixar film you and I probably both watched when we were kids: “Just keep swimming.”

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