Thursday, August 27, 2015

Rejections and disappointments

Disappointments are a part of life. Just as bravery is not the absence of fear but your ability to suppress it, success is not the absence of disappointments. It is your ability to bounce back again each time you fail - or fall.

I had my share of rejections and disappointments. I will list down only some ten percent of my lows in life here. The other ninety percent? There were not even worth the space in my memory.
Be like a Bobo doll, everytime it is hit and
it falls, it bounces back smiling

At 5, I was denied admission to Tashigang Dzong to become a novice monk. Otherwise by now I would have become Dorji Lopon instead of remaining as Dorji Wangchuk. :)

At 7, I was rejected by Don Bosco School (Kharbandi). I entered a year later after Her Royal Highness Princess Dechen Wangmo Wangchuck granted me a kasho. Sometime God appears as a princess. (I named my second daughter after her, incase I forget her kindness. I am absent-minded).

At 16, when I was about to appear for my ICSE, my paternal uncle who was to send me to a medical school was killed in an accident. My dream to become a doctor came to a dead end. Instead of Shillong, I suddenly found myself sent to a plywood factory in Phuntsholing by the Directorate of Manpower to work as an operator helper. I cried every night I got home after work.

At 18, the love of my life went with another man. Poor soul (she!)

At 20, I got rejected by Druk Air. I wanted to be a pilot or an aviation engineer. To add to the injury, someone got in my place.

At 26, while I was away and still doing my university studies my mother passed away after a long illness. My world crashed in front of me. I was not only devastated, I was close to depression and lost a year recovering and nearly missed my graduation quota.

In my professional career I was killed many times (for details, read my memoir when it comes out). I was passed over for promotion several times. I was sidelined. Everything doable within human limits was done to me. But I kept smiling and everytime I reinvented myself. From being the chief engineer, I chose to become a simple television producer. That's why I said at the Mountain Echoes 2015 that life is not linear; sometimes you have to take a lateral route. Sometimes you need walk backwards to launch forward. 

I even had to resign from an organization (BBS) that I had built with few others. There wasn't even a simple tea party for my departure after serving there for 20 years. There wasn't for other pioneers either. Can you imagine, how disappointing can that be? But again, I bounced back becoming a journalist and made a name for myself as a columnist for Bhutan Times - nation's first private newspaper.

Then finally when I thought that I was done with all my bad Karmas; when I was at the peak of my career, fate knocked on my door and said, "wait we are not done with you". In a a minor scuffle in front of my house someone nearly killed my wife - accidently. I spent a month in the hospital and almost six months thereafter nursing her back to health. The months following the accident were some of the most difficult periods in my life. I felt defeated, destroyed and dejected - all at the same time. For the first time I found hell. But as Churchill once put it, if you are going through hell, keep going. What else could I do? I kept going. On the flipside that whole incident made me strong. Nothing scares me now. In fact I cherish every person I meet or work with, every opportunity that comes around and every day that I wake up. Being to hell and back, I tell you, is a great way to appreciate simple things in life - things like just being alive.   

So if people think that I had a smooth, seamless and illustrous career, it was absolutely not the case. It is just that I don’t talk about it or brag about it; and I don’t even think about it at all. More importantly, I keep bouncing back like the bobo doll. I keep reinventing myself. I have not only done that, I have even thrived in every new profession that I ventured into - from engineering to filmmaking to journalism to teaching.

If there is something that I have learnt about life, it is that it goes on. 

So keep falling. Keep bouncing back with a smile. 

As for me, to put it alla Decartes, I think. Therefore, I am (a bobo doll).


  1. Truly amazing journey you had walked and still walking, Dorji Sir. I am struggling here, and I see everybody around me fighting odds - against the systems, ill lucks, people and life itself. But this journey of yours is truly helpful for me to understand that life is not as pleasant as we think of; in fact, we create our own life.

  2. Dear Sir,

    It is truly amazing and I am particularly inspired by your resilience and the way you handle those low points of life! I have been going through a quite many lately, but going through your write up made me believe in myself and look at things from a totally different perspective.

    I hope I can reinvent and bounce back like you did.

    Thank you for sharing your hardships and shinning the rays of hope.


  3. Sancha, Thanks.

    Riku, Pema, If you are going through hell, keep going - Churchill :)

  4. you went on with life like a bobo doll. I am inspired, thank you.

  5. I liked this article so much so that I could not stop sharing it on my Facebook page. This is so far one of the most relevant stuff (based on our own people and context) that I got to share with my students. A phenomenal piece, though painful.

  6. Sir, inspiring la... I will keep going la.....