Thursday, March 29, 2012

Dealing with Rejection

No matter what anyone says, rejection hurts. It's a part of life, but it hurts. You take it personal even if they aren’t rejecting you personally. It’s not fully you they are rejecting, it’s your place within their world.

The worst rejections in my life came as a senior. UCLA rejected me in high school. Teach for America rejected me in college. And yesterday, I felt that sting again from somebody I wasn't hoping I wouldn't feel it from.

The Los Angeles Times has been a dream of mine since I decided to pursue journalism. It’s the holy grail in my city and for a kid who has read the paper since he was 10, I figured I’d finally get in. A contact there encouraged me to apply for their MetPro program and I did, after spending literally a week on the writing assignments, editing and such.

Instead, after applying to their MetPro program in January, I found out yesterday that I was didn’t make the next phase of the process. Reading that email in my Bible study literally sapped all of my energy and I could hear nothing else but my own thoughts.

Call me presumptuous but I assumed I had this based on my qualifications. I was excited and felt like it was an answered prayer I didn't expect. 

Maybe it hurts more because I figured that applying a 2nd time with more experience would be in my favor. I initially tried to apply in 2006 on my own. I drove down to the offices to pass my resume off to somebody and nobody returned a call.

So I took the long way there. I spent 3 ½ years at the L.A. Sentinel, a weekly newspaper. I earned my stripes covering high school sports and whatever news was thrown at me. I was blessed to write 3 stories on the Jena 6 and get to cover the rally firsthand. I got to interview people like Oscar Robertson, John Wooden, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Rep. Maxine Waters (and that’s barely naming a few).

In sports, I got to see James Harden and Kevin Love dominate in high school. I got to watch Russell Westbrook break out his sophomore year at UCLA and come home to Leuzinger HS to get his jersey retired.  I watched Matt Barkley, Robert Woods, Marqise Lee, DeAnthony Thomas all shine in high school.

I became the sports editor at 23. By 24, I had enough professional memories that people would be jealous of and plans for more to come. Not to mention I had already won some national awards.

But I also knew firsthand that journalism was changing and I knew that my newspaper days were numbered. When I decided to leave the Sentinel in 2010, I wanted to freelance with the hope of earning more cred and experience to one day, reapply for the LA Times as no longer a rookie.

That’s why I took on freelance gigs with the Daily Breeze, helped a colleague at ESPN/RISE and started writing for Bleacher Report. To not just keep the dream alive but to hope for a chance to maybe get noticed by somebody, perhaps the Times again.

This hurts because it may no longer be a dream deferred but a dream denied. It’s a clear sign to let it go and move on without looking back.  For all my fears about the Times’ losing jobs, getting smaller in print, their new paywall, I still wanted to get on at some point and hopefully get that validation/gain some experience from the best.

This hurts because I had a feeling 2012 was going to be my year. A year where I wouldn’t repeat the incredible struggle I had in 2011. A year that I planned on changing with the hope of being there as a big reason why..

Maybe I was also bitter because I’ve met a lot of people the last 2 years and they’ve gotten to know me as Evan instead of Evan the sportswriter. I wanted to prove to people that I was a knowledgeable sports fan but I also had the respect of being a media guy too or tweeting from games again. (Then again, maybe that’s not a bad thing cause they got to know me before the profession)

Maybe I was jealous because I was a media guy on Twitter in 2009 and I saw so many of my peers, colleagues get on later when Twitter was more popular and continue those connections while I felt like an outsider. Thank God, I still had Friday Night Lights and Twitter made that even better but it wasn’t the same as the rush I had when I was at my paper.

Worse is that I’ll be back at Square One. Wondering what do with my career. I’ll still write on my blog and still contribute to Bleacher Report on occasion but after I hear back from a job I interviewed for, I’ll better know what to do in the future. It's just that uneasy feeling of what the heck do I do now?

But I’m not going to sit here and feel sorry for myself. Yeah, I shed tears after I heard the news and now I’m ready to act. Jeremiah 29:11 gives me hope just like one of my favorite poems, Invictus, does. Somebody once told me that it’s about finding the right fit because I could write anywhere and succeed. 

It’s encouraging to know that some many folks have read my writings whether in print, at Bleacher Report, on my blog or my Twitter thoughts. I'm learning to move beyond needing anyone's validation of my skills because I know that I write to please myself and share a well-reasoned slice of my mind. Whatever I receive, I humbly thank you in advance.

(And I'm open to see if a non-writing job pops up because let's face it, why limit yourself. I may identify as a writer/witness but I'm not going to not explore an opportunity when it comes.)

God has a plan. That’s what I heard Stafon Johnson say for the first time when he spoke after his life-threatening neck injury. That’s what I believe will happen in the face of this rejection. It hurts, it feels personal but it’s now motivation. Trusting Him to figure this out.

UCLA rejected me and I ended up a better university at USD. Teach for America rejected me and I ended up spending 3 1/2 years being a part of the L.A. media. History says this rejection means something better is coming so I walk by faith feeling sad but optimistic that I'll find that something.

(One more thing. I've already technically made the LA Times' sports page. See that Derek Fisher article at the bottom. That's mine. Courtesy of Bleacher Report)


  1. I love your thoughts and honesty with this. Like you said, rejection in any form is hard and it hurts. For what it's worth, I thought your articles for them were amazing, better than most of the news stories I've read.
    But I know that God has an AMAZING plan for you. Like we said, just gotta keep your eyes open for that newly opened door or window. ;)
    And I'm thankful that UCLA rejected you, because it gave me the opportunity to meet an amazing friend :) <3

  2. Thank you so much my friend. And honestly, as sad as I was about UCLA, I don't regret going to USD to meet you and so many wonderful people who I consider part of my life and my experiences. Things happen and eventually you focus on what you encounter on your journey instead of where you didn't end up going.

    And as we both know - the best is yet to come :)