Shooting Straight: When Rejection Leads To Opportunity
A little over two months ago, I had come home from E3. After a harrowing flight from Los Angeles to Denver, most of my layover and the rest of my trip home was spent thinking about my future. For years, I’d been holding onto this crazy dream of writing about video games for a living… and then my focus on sales analysis was what I thought could be another way to get my foot in the door. I had just finished my first year of college, but my financial aid request was denied… so I had been holding out hope that E3 would point me towards some opportunities. I know that was foolish, but even if I made contacts while out there, perhaps I could turn that into something else.
That simply did not come to pass. I never had a future as an analyst. I didn’t have the education or the experience to get a chance. I had to hear some people who I greatly admire and respect tell me that it just wasn’t going to happen. At the time, I was crushed. I felt like I’d wasted my effort over the last few years, holding onto something that never was… and I still had a show to cover. Thankfully, I had booked my schedule at E3 so air-tight that I didn’t have time to think about what was to come. Instead, I was focused on what was directly in front of me, taking mental notes and sampling all that I could. I knew that this was probably going to be my last trip to E3, and I wanted to savor it.
The flight home left me to think, though. What was I going to do now? What was it all for? Had I been wasting my time? I was angry. I was depressed. My confidence was in pieces. I realized that I’d spent more than 25% of my life engaged in an activity that wasn’t going to be the future that I’d hoped it would be. I got home, recovered, wrote my share of words for Popzara about the things I’d seen and the games I’d played, and then just kind of sat here at home.
A few days later, I had an epiphany. While it was true that my dreams were dashed in California, I realized that I was now free to do my own thing. If I wasn’t going to be making a living by writing, that was okay. I could still do what I had been doing all along… writing for fun, shifting some of my writing time towards the Retro Community, and going my own way. I realized that I needed to stop hoping and start living. At the very least, I can say that I got to attend the biggest yearly event in the video game industry each of the last three years. I worked my way into being a recognizable name among other writers and peers. I had met some of the people who are some of my biggest inspirations. I’d accomplished a lot, even if I didn’t achieve my final objective… and that was okay.
So I made changes. I started submitting articles to Retroware and becoming an active member of the community there. I spent my time how I wanted to spend it, and on the projects that I wanted to spend it on. I started playing games more, reminding myself of why I became so enamored with video games in the first place. It’s been great. I don’t worry anymore about whether writing is my future or not. I don’t care anymore that I may not ever get paid for a word I write or a second of video that I shoot. My motivations are completely different. I know that freelancers and pro writers may not approve of the idea that I want to do this for enjoyment and for the experience, but that’s what drives me.
Then, recently, I found out for certain that my request for financial aid for this school year was denied. It was a tax problem, something to do with filing a return when I wasn’t supposed to. It was crushing because I had done so well in my first year of college and was looking forward to continuing that journey. I wanted to get a degree and get a decent job. Unfortunately, it’s not meant to be… not for this school year, anyway. As when I heard the bad news about my analyst aspirations, I was upset for a few days. I sulked. I complained. I felt directionless… until I read a fateful Craigslist posting.
The ad was for a job fair at a bowling alley. While working in a bowling alley may not be the first choice of at least some people, bowling and I have a history. I used to be a steadfast league bowler for more than 10 years back in the 1990s and early 2000s. I loved league nights, I loved practicing, and I loved showing off that rainbow hook that I’d learned from a former girlfriend’s dad who had introduced me to the sport. When I started writing about games and pursuing a potential career in it, I gave up bowling. I dedicated my time to writing, to playing, and to other things. I just didn’t have the open night to spend. I didn’t regret it, but I did miss it. But now, with this job fair, it was a great match. I could possibly work in a bowling alley and it could be a way back into the sport for me.
I filled out my job application, attached my resume, and talked with the center manager. I was honest… told him about my failed relocation to Arizona, my failure to secure aid to back to school this year, and how I believe that my love of the sport would make me a great front desk person. I gave open availability… whenever the center needed me, I would be available. I was offered a front desk position on the spot, with good pay and hours that allow me to still write and even pursue community management opportunities that I’ve been considering. I won’t be making a mint, but I’ll be able to support myself and even buy a few games here and there… and I’ll be working in an environment that promotes fun and is one that I’ve always been fond of.
While the sting of rejection hurts for awhile, it’s worth it when it leads to opportunity. Had I not been through what I’ve been through this summer, perhaps I’d still be going through the motions and hoping for something that was never going to happen. I now have a firm future and new possibilities. I’ll still be writing, but I’ll be working, throwing a few games of bowling a week for exercise, and moving forward with a new sense of purpose and motivation.
The dream is dead. Long live my future.