“Here’s a blog I wrote to myself back in 2015 while I was not yet an Atlas Corps Fellow. I however knew a day such as this would come when I would publish my first blog as an Atlas Corps Fellow, and now it has finally happened” (Blog post formatted for space)
It’s the 20th day of August 2015 and I’m writing my first blog as an Atlas Corps Fellow. Now, this may sound incredulous and strange as I am not a Fellow as at the time I’m writing this blog. I however know that it’s only a matter of time before it is published and when it is done, I would have the honor and privilege to be an Atlas Corps Fellow.
This is a story of faith, hope and courage to someone out there. You may be at the brink of not being sure where the road leads to, you may also be at the same point I’ve been several times in which you want to do more, you know you can do more, but you’re not just sure how you will go about it.
Every social entrepreneur, nonprofit professional and world changer has very often walked the less trodden path in which all you want is for the world to be a better place and you want to be happy in return. Putting a smile on someone’s face is all you live for and making the dreams of another come to fruition gladdens your heart. However, there seems not to be many opportunities or avenues to getting this done and you’re in betwixt two; do I follow my passion and convictions or do I just settle for a 9 – 5.
You may be surprised I’m saying this, but I am truly glad that my earlier attempts of being an Atlas Corps Fellow did not work out. At my first attempt, I was as green as I could be. My application was out of curiosity and my inexperience perhaps oozed in my application. I was however truly shocked and surprised when that same application took me straight to being confirmed a Semi Finalist. Perhaps there was something else Atlas Corps saw in me that I didn’t see at that time.
At my second application, the fellowship was my easy way out. Having lived & worked in South Africa for 4 years, I had to return to Lagos. I planned returning to Durban after staying a few weeks in Lagos, but things just didn’t work out as planned.
During those eventful months in Lagos, I kept myself busy with my social advocacy work, volunteering, doing internships, working for free, facilitating conferences and lots more. I even had traveled to Europe and North America for a summit and returned home afterwards. However, for every international summit I was invited to, I perhaps might have received 20 other rejection letters. They came in such regular fashion that even without reading the mail, I could tell from the header and first few words that this was another “NO”
I just admit that the first rejection letter hit me very badly. I perhaps might have sulked for a few days while promising myself that would be my last application. But later on, I summoned courage. With every application, I got better. It made me research & study more, thereby refining me in the process. The rejection letters still came in their numbers, but my attitude had changed. I took every stumbling stone and made it a stepping stone. I could now smile even after reading a rejection letter and afterwards, I right on my table applying for the next one.
I lacked experience in my first attempt of being an Atlas Corps Fellow. My second attempt was more of taking it as an easy way out. The third time, I knew exactly what I wanted, and by the fourth attempt, I was ready, not desperate or anxious, but Ready! And it comes as no surprise that I was selected for 2 prestigious and international Fellowships back to back in 2016.
This may be the very first blog by an Atlas Corps Fellow, which was written as a Semi Finalist. However, here’s to firsts. It is my hope that this personal letter from me to whoever may be reading it will serve as motivation and encouragement.
Now, only about 2 – 3% end up being an Atlas Corps Fellow within a particular application cycle. The other 97% are also amazing individuals with a drive to make the world’s better place. The fact is that while we appreciate programs such as the Atlas Corps EGLI Fellowship and other amazing programs, the reality is that there’s not just enough opportunities available to accommodate everyone.
You may or may not be accepted by Atlas Corps or any other program, those rejection letters may keep rolling in and you may be at the point of giving up on your dreams, goals and passions. But before you do, I’ll like to leave you with these few words, “Work on being and not on having, for with what you are, you will have”