The Power in the Words: You CAN’T do it!

Have you ever been told by someone that you can’t do it? If you have, I am sure you will connect with what you are going to read in the next few minutes.

Year 2007: My professional life saw a huge transition; I moved from teaching to journalism, with no understanding of how media industry works. I felt like a tiny fish in an ocean. Even personally, it was a huge change because I had, for the first time, stepped out of my comfort zone (my home town, my home). I met new people in a new city.

I missed my home so badly. I missed the classroom where I taught young students. In this new organization, I was the student, attending trainings on digital editing, camera, newsroom computer system etc. Though not required for my role, I was advised that I should sit in.

In one such sessions, the trainer (someone who had spent more than 15 years in TV industry), asked each one in the class: Where have you come from?

He meant, which news channel or media house have you come from.

As each one in the room, called out BIG names, I will be honest, I felt embarrassed to say: I was a teacher. 

Finally, when I said this, the trainer asked to reassure: Pardon me? Repeat yourself?

I repeated myself: I was a teacher.

He looked at me with disgust, with his brows wrinkled. He said: What are you doing here? Who hired you? You can’t survive HERE. You will have to go back from where you came. YOU CAN’T DO IT.

There was death silence in the room. My colleagues sat with their eyes looking at each other. Some had their eyes gazing the floor. Clearly, they didn’t anticipate such harsh discouraging words from someone senior.

What about me?

I sat there, pulling a smile onto my face with huge difficulty, while my heart wept. I had never learnt to reply back my seniors.

Then, he moved to the person sitting next to me. Soon the training started, and soon it ended and the class dispersed.

I rushed to the restroom. Cried my heart out. Cried because I felt I lost the battle even before it started. I felt like a loser. After 15 minutes, I stepped out of the restroom and went to my work station. There, my Manager was waiting to speak with me on some matter. He realized I was sad. He asked me to pull a chair, sit, and relax. Then, very patiently, heard the whole story. I can’t forget his words and his smiling face. What he said, changed my life FOREVER.

He said: Monika, this is a big city, and bigger is the competition in this industry. You will find many, many more people like ‘him’ who will talk without thinking. In the same industry, you will ‘also’ find people like your team mates, your peers and seniors. They are there to help you scale up your skills and teach you new ones. They are your real mentors, and your workstation is your classroom. Treat this opportunity as one in a million and make the best out of it. Learn ‘on the job’ with enthusiasm. Do not let these words bog you down. Rather, treat them as ‘power words’ that propel the best out of you. Wipe your tears, and get to work with a renewed vigour. 

Those words filled my heart with hope, and my mind with a determination to prove myself a great fit for the role.

My team mates will vouch for this. I learned each day from them, and gave my best shot at work. Within a year, I was writing features for the website, interviewing celebrities, diplomats and the like. I was efficiently monitoring news, coordinating with journalists, and updating the website. I was also blogging at the same time.  I continued polishing my skills and working hard on my development areas. I received appreciation from my Manager, team mates and seniors. They were so happy to see me grow.

I thank my stars for finding such great people at work. People who said, you CAN’T do it, and people who confidently said: You CAN!


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