Thursday, April 4, 2019

Aiming high enough

There's this thing I heard growing up, and internalized as:

If you aren't getting rejected, you aren't aiming high enough.

That phrase comes back to me all the time, especially in academia.

Tonight I got a grant rejection that... I was just so hopeful about. It was one of those two-stage grant applications, where you have to make it through the first round, and then you get the chance to write a more detailed proposal for the second round (but with fewer people competing).

Turns out there were only 15 of us in the second round. And 5 were awarded. First of all, that's amazing! I'm so happy that this award exists, and so many people support it, and it was able to fund so many people.

I really thought my idea was a good one. And, y'know what, it was good enough to get to the second round.

I just looked up the five people who were awarded, and they are all doing really awesome, cool stuff. It's all very different from each other, and from what I do. They also are all a lot more established in the field of this application than I am.

And, honestly, that feels pretty awesome. To think that I made it to compete with those people.

We're going to keep pushing forward with the idea, and I'll plan to apply again next year.

I'm not going to lie, the constant rejection isn't easy. And sometimes, it's downright harmful. So please don't think rejection for the sake of being rejected is a good thing. And sometimes, when it comes to grant ideas, at least, you also need to learn when its time to move on to the next.

But, when it's a highly competitive field, it's okay to still feel good about being considered, even if you didn't get the thing.