I FAILED AND I’M GLAD

I still remember the day.

After months of waiting, sleepless nights, and nervous anticipation, the letter had arrived.

The course of my life was about to change.

I started my undergraduate career intent on finishing a degree in social-work in four years. I wanted to save the world and do it quickly. During my second semester, in addition to other core classes, I registered for Algebra and Biology, both 5 credit-hour classes. Although I was cautioned about taking two 5 credit-hour classes in the same semester, I was confident I would excel (even without studying) because I had always gotten good grades with minimal effort. My confidence resulted in Ds in both classes, and notification that I was on academic probation. I was devastated.

I enrolled in school that summer determined to improve my GPA and get off probation. I received 2 As, but the damage was done. It would take several semesters to repair my GPA- semesters that I didn’t have because I had to apply to the School of Social-Work my sophomore year.

That fall I applied. I talked to faculty, wrote a personal statement, and gathered letters of recommendation. I was confident I would be accepted in spite of my GPA because I was destined to be a social-worker. Social-work was part of the master plan for my life; it was the reason I chose that particular university.

The day I received the letter I was attending a career conference. During the conference I was summoned to the phone for an urgent call. The voice on the other end said a letter from the School of Social-Work had arrived. With bated breath, I requested that it be opened and read aloud. It was a rejection letter.

I was crushed. I went to a friend’s house and cried profusely on his mom’s shoulder: I was inconsolable. As I cried, she said, “Camile, just maybe God has something better for you.” In an overly dramatic fashion, I declared I didn’t want to hear it and that my life was over. I could reapply the following year, but that would mean an extra year in college and I still might not be accepted into the School. I was not going to be a social-worker after all.

Eventually I wiped my tears, explored other majors, and pursued a degree in Criminal Justice. I loved the classes and made plans to become a probation officer. I graduated on time and immediately went to graduate school. I was in a hurry: after all life was short, and I was already 21.

In graduate school I took a class that inspired me to consider law school. I vividly recall standing in line to take the LSAT and overhearing students discuss the countless hours they spent studying for the exam and listing the schools they planned to attend. I felt so unprepared and insecure. I was convinced there was no way I could compete. After receiving my score, I applied to ten schools, and again, anxiously awaited the decisions. Fortunately, this time I received eight acceptance letters, one wait-list letter, and only one rejection letter. The following fall I enrolled in law school.

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I have been a practicing attorney for almost 13 years. Through my academic experiences I learned several lessons that I will share with Max and Myles. I learned what we perceive to be failures are sometimes stepping stones to our greatest successes. I also learned the importance of taking advantage of every opportunity in spite of our insecurities and fears.

I assumed my future was doomed when I didn’t get into the School of Social Work. My plans were destroyed and I didn’t see how I could recover. I had no idea there were greater opportunities in my future-opportunities that were better suited to my talents and desires. I have worked with the same communities I wanted to work with as a social worker. I’ve been a prosecutor, an assistant attorney general, and an attorney for the Department of Children and Family services. I’ve done things that would have been impossible without a law degree-things I never dreamed of for myself.

There are many detours in life; we should embrace them and recognize they might be blessings in disguise. My life changed the day I received that rejection letter and I am grateful.

What disappointments have you experienced that were blessings in disguise?

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18 thoughts on “I FAILED AND I’M GLAD

  1. What a great story to share! My awakening was Chem130. Changed my life. Took me from med school road to grad school. My mom was furious and disappointed and pleaded with me to change my mind . As you said the damage was already done

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  2. I’m just so proud of you! I totally remember you applying to law school and being at your graduation. You are such an inspiration …..thanks for sharing your story. LOVED reading this!

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  3. You and I have very similar stories. I ended up on academic probation after my first semester in college. I was a student athlete (cross country) and had 18 hrs of courses. Bio and algebra damn near brought me to my knees. I went to summer school every summer and graduated with a decent gpa. I worked as a social worker after college which inspired me to get a MSW or a JD. I applied for two MSW programs. I took the LSAT and did not score so good. I Applied to 4 lawschools anyway. I got rejected for both MSW programs! But, I received one acceptance letter to law school @ DePaul. I’ve been practicing law since 2004. And like you, I’m a mother and have taken up sewing as a hobby! We need to collaborate !

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    1. Thanks for reading! We do have very similar stories. I don’t know why I thought I could those classes in the same semester. I’ve never liked math or science. They gave me a real wake-up call. Having worked with social-workers and listening to their frustrations, I’m really glad things turned out the way they did. I’d love to collaborate. I need to start sewing again…it’s so time consuming and I think I tried to do too much too soon.

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  4. Awesome read and testimony! What you are sharing is invaluable Camille! Thanks for opening up and sharing your not-so-great successes and your victories…it will surely inspire others to never give up and that there is still hope! KUDOS

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  5. I feel as though I am in the middle of my success-failure-overcomer-victory story of my life. I attended law school and graduate in 2010. I graduated at the age of twenty-five. There was nothing more important to me than accomplishing that goal. However, life after graduation didn’t pen out as I’d hope. The job prospects were like a barren land. I started working as a document review attorney. I joined the United States Army. I thought joining the army would improve my situation. It did. However, I started to wonder if the law degree, the dream, was all a waste of time. I went back to school for a Masters in Criminal Justice and an Advance Certificate in Criminal Investigation. My perspective has changed. I believe the law school degree was just the beginning, not a waste, I know that I have now figured out that I want to teach Criminal Law courses and work for a government agency in their investigation department. Knowing the law comes in handy when an investigation is in progress. I am trusting the process and I can’t wait to see how my story turns out.

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    1. Thank you for reading! Like you, my graduate degree is in criminal justice and although I rely more on my law degree, my graduate degree has come in handy. I know you will find your law degree to be an asset regardless of what you ultimately do. I recently met an attorney who has never practiced and instead does investigations for a government agency. Sounds like the sky is the limit for you. I wish you the best on your journey. Life has its ups and downs but in the end everything has a way of working out. Sometimes it just requires us to move outside our comfort zone and think outside the box.

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  6. Interesting. I just re-enrolled into college to major in Human Services. I have a love for Criminal and Family Law. I’m always on the fence about going into Social Work because of the horror stories I hear and read. I would hate to end up burnt out doing something that I’m passionate about.

    Probably my biggest disappointment happened recently when a meet-up I’d plan, didn’t go as planned. I have an organization I’m trying to get off the ground and the meet-up was to get a group of women I know who are survivors of abuse. Leading up to the day of the event, I received so much motivation, offers to help set-up and just about everyone invited, stated they would definitely be there. Well only 2 people ended up coming. I was hurt at first but then told myself that ” Things we plan don’t always go as planned and this didn’t mean that I was a failure”. So I’ve been looking at other options. It also showed me who I could depend on as well.

    Amazing how an incident can change ones whole perspective and/or direction. Seems as though you love what you’re doing and in the end, you hadn’t failed at all…:-)

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    1. i agree sometimes one event will totally change your perspective on things. It is unfortunate that the turn out was not good for your event but I hope the two people who came had an amazing time. If they went away with something valuable then it is likely they will tell their associates and perhaps the next meet-up will have a larger attendance. Congrats to you for starting school again. I hope you find a career path that you truly enjoy. I can’t say that I love practicing law but the degree has been useful in more ways than one. Thanks for reading!

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