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Last week I had to deal with a serious challenge that tested my level of maturity, my optimism, and my stoicism as a man and a human being. I can’t say I passed this challenge with flying colors. In fact I think I’d give myself a C for the effort. But I’ve pulled through, learned lessons, and ready to move forward.

As some may know, while I have a license to practice law in New York and New Jersey, I’ve been searching for permanent employment with someone, ANYONE, ever since I finished taking the bar exams. For the last 3 months, I have been working with getting a year-long fellowship with a non-profit organization and/or its affiliates. I had gone through several interviews and a few weeks ago I was able to access an exclusive job portal with several open positions. I applied to about 4 of them, and was told I would attend a reception in D.C. last Thursday and interview for one or all of the positions on Friday.

Well, that didn’t happen. I got a call from the organization the day before I was to leave saying that none of the employers I applied to wanted to interview me. And the one position I wanted the most was snapped up just the week before. It was pretty devastating. I had gone through a lot with this organization, conducting a number of interviews, passing through them and moving further and further down the trail to what I hoped to finally become employment. My ambition is to be in D.C. and those open positions would put me exactly where I want to be. That made the cancellation all the more painful.

I was in a rut days after and most of this weekend. I felt like I was back to square one in my job search. I was so sure that I had a job in the bag in the coming weeks, even though technically I was never guaranteed an interview. I put far too much emotion into it and was guilty of counting my chickens before they hatched.

This weekend revealed a lot about myself, but also a lot about who my friends are. When I revealed what happened on Twitter and Facebook, there was an outpouring of support from friends and family. Some gave words of encouragement, others began working to find new leads for me, others gave me an ear for me to blow off the steam of frustration and anxiousness I felt.

Although there are many folks who lent their support to me, I want to particularly thank my parents for putting up with me this weekend, my grandmother who refuses to doubt me, and @TXSusanB, @DinaFraioli, and @MsKittyAlvarez. Those three tweeps have all been my biggest help not only through this endeavor but throughout my job hunt, providing support when I needed it, and tough love when I REALLY needed it. I needed a kick in the ass to get myself out of the rut this weekend and they were more than happy to provide it and I can’t thank them enough.

However, on Saturday I was still feeling down, and feeling sorry for myself. I was taking it out on my parents unfairly and they were having family over for a dinner party. Attending was my uncle Raymond and my father’s cousin Angelo, who was visiting from Florida. I didn’t want anything to do with it. I felt like all it would do was remind me of my current station. Sure enough the first thing my uncle asked me was about the D.C. trip! I did my best to put up a nice face.

During dinner, Angelo talked to me about where I am and where I’d be going. I told him what happened and he told me his life experiences. “It’s never going to be easy,” he said. Setbacks like this are going to happen a lot, and in this economy its only going to be more numerous. It’s all about “working the room, talking to people, and taking that shit job, even though you deserve better.” He said “when you get knocked down 4 times, you get up 8. You can’t let this one eat at you because more will be coming. I believe in you, Sam. I’m 72 years old, but I hope to see you again in 20 years because I know you will be successful then. And when you do become successful, you’re taking me out to McDonald’s for a burger.” Of course I knew all of this, I’ve heard it all. I guess I needed someone to say it to my face who wasn’t a parent. It finally got me over the hump and I can’t thank him enough for it.

The moral of this long-winded, aloof, and slightly self-serving story is that I can’t let setbacks like these tear me up for days on end because there will be more of them around the corner. I gotta get up, brush the dirt off my suit and be ready for the next one cause it’ll be coming, and know that even though those doors have closed, others will open. Also, I am blessed to have the amount of support that I have in my family and friends, and it is unfair for me to take my frustrations and pains out on them. They deserve my thanks, not my scowls.

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