First of all, I apologize for the vulgarity in the title. I can’t express the degree of disappointment in any calmer way. I consider myself a very trustworthy and pretty trusting person. I usually give people the benefit of the doubt. I try to see the good in people until they do something to hurt me. When it comes to friends, I’ve a pretty good instinct on who’s real and who’s not. I know a lot of people. I see a lot of people. I’m not the kind to just call everyone their friends. I’ve been pretty blessed to have a good number of people I’d call genuine friends who I fully trust, until now.
I won’t go into the specifics. A while ago, an acquaintance of mine set me up with some causal job with someone he knows. I thought it was very nice of him to refer me and gave me all the help I needed, so in my mind I immediately elevated him to my “friend”. For the love of god, I even went to his wedding! I was new to doing that kind of project and took it without bargaining for my rate. He told me that’s the industry standard. I even thought he did me a huge favor because that experience looks pretty nice on my resume. I trusted him. I didn’t sign a contract and I just did the work for his “friend”. When it was about time to get paid, though, I literally had to chase him down. When I finally got paid, it was less than what I had expected, but there was no way to figure out how much I really should be paid because I didn’t sign a contact with his “friend”. I again chose to just let it slide because there was no way to know if I was cheated until I was asked by another acquaintance to conduct a similar project recently. I was told my rate should have been at least twice as high! It’s confirmed that I really was taken advantage of, that he really is an asshole scamming my hard-earned money! I hope he burns in hell with all the money he took from me.
I won’t let this misfortune completely destroy my faith in humanity, though. I’ve come to terms with the ying and yang in life because I always meet a new angel for every asshole who has been exposed.
Lately I become friends with a listener of my podcast who teaches at MIT (Yup, that MIT). He has given me so much help on my new round of PhD application even though he keeps telling me his advice may not about applicable to the communication discipline. Assistant professors are really busy people because they need to fight for tenure. My own favorite professor at my alma mater, who is also an assistant professor, is often too busy to reply my emails and gives me feedback on stuff. My friend, on the other hand, has been taking time to console me and gives me very constructive suggestions on improving my applications and getting published despite his busy schedule. He’d tell me how he selects his own PhD students and the reasons behind rejections. He helps me understand how rejections don’t invalidate me as a person and as an aspiring academic. Time and again, he assures me that he sees a lot of potential and talent in me, and he believes I’ll make a good professor one day as long as I keep trying. This is what a real friend is. I hope I can thank him in person when he comes home for his well-earned summer break.