What Happens When Dreams Don’t Come True

Well, it’s finally happened; Tourism Australia’s ‘Best Jobs in the World Contest‘ finalists have been announced!

Hilary w:cub excited copyThey have whittled the top twenty-five in each category down to three. After 14 days, 3,000 new Facebook fans, 998 miles, 350 new Twitter followers, 200 blog comments, 13 endorsements, 8 parks, 8 interviews, and 1 academy award winner…

(Deep breath in. Yawn. Inhale again. )

I was ready for the announcement. I had dreamed and visualized my name being listed as one of the three in the Park Ranger category for weeks. I was already imagining what the interview process would be like.

Beautiful Day

Of course, having Facebook-stalked my fellow shortlisters, I knew competition would be tough. And clearly no-one was going down without a fight.

So I stayed up ’til 2 AM with my best friend… refreshing the Australian Working Holiday page every few seconds until the announcement popped up. I took a breath, closed my eyes, and read carefully. Then I reread it. And read it again.

Park Ranger finalists

Wasn’t what you were hoping for, huh? Me either.

It was the worst of worst-case scenarios. Neither Sarah Cross or myself made the final three of our categories. And the other Park Ranger candidate I was secretly rooting for also wasn’t selected. A trifecta of trauma.

Supporting Team Sarah

Sarah told me the next day she drowned her sorrows in a bottle of Australian wine. I was less ironic and more stereotypical and cried out my weight in tears, feeling like a complete failure. My best friend sat there, letting me soak her shirt with my fallen dreams. I stayed up most of the night coping with the news. I was the weakest link. Goodbye.

And while it felt like I was mourning the loss of a relationship, I had to remind myself that the last time this happened, all was not lost.


Just like two years ago, when I was rejected from graduate school, I FELT lost, and FELT cheated, and FELT confused. After all, how could I work SO HARD at something and not prove to someone I was worth it? But that doesn’t mean that I failed. In fact, I’d just begun.

Hilary galloping

The hard facts were, in the past two weeks I’ve made a ton of new friends.

Human Nature copy

Australian Bee Gees copy

I’ve connected with so many inspiring and beautiful people from around the world, most who have never met me.

Japan 1

I’ve shown myself and others all that can be accomplished in just two weeks.

Hilary & Shirley

And I’ve rediscovered my love for blogging and sharing my adventures. What a wonderful way to be reminded that there are so many people out there who care for me and are just as hungry for once-in-a-lifetime experiences as I am.

Team Hilary 1 copyIt’s like American Idol. Not every contestant with a great voice gets in the top ten, or even makes it through the auditions. And sometimes even if they do, they don’t win. Sometimes someone’s just better. Sometimes they just have to cut people even if they’re all awesome because they have to narrow it down somehow. That’s just the terms you agree to when you sign up for something like this.

But even if they didn’t make it all the way, at least they tried, right?

And certainly, getting named one of the top 150 candidates out of 600,000 applications from 330,000 different people is pretty incredible. And boy, has it been one hell of a ride.

Pod of Dolphins

So here’s to a new adventure!Β While I may not have walked away from this contest as their official ‘winner’, I had an absolute blast and I’m so thankful to Tourism Australia for the opportunity. I know I will get back to Australia sometime soon. But maybe just not as soon as I would’ve liked.

Koala kisses

I’m also incredibly thankful for all of your support and encouragement through this venture. I could not have done this without you. Please know I send love and support right back to you.

Little Rangers

I look forward to sharing the next great adventure with you. =)

Sydney Opera house

73 thoughts on “What Happens When Dreams Don’t Come True

  1. What a ride! I was rooting for you the entire way and was saddened about you not getting the job; but you saw things in a much better light. You saw all the friends you made and wonderful experiences you had. Your network has expanded by multitudes and will give you so many more chances for great adventures. I see bright days and long horizons in your future.

  2. There are some amazing adventures in our futures – I have no doubt about that! Great post πŸ™‚ Very similar to what I expressed in my post-contest blog post as well. Hope to meet up with you one day soon!

  3. Damn, I’m so bummed for you, but impressed that you’re able to put a positive spin on things! Sometimes you just need to cry your brains out and have a ‘lil tantrum before acknowledging the silver lining. You certainly did gain some new readers and followers, though- myself included! I hope that the opportunity comes up again and you blow the competition out of the water. Keep on rockin’, girlfriend, you’re phenomenal.

  4. so bummed for you, Hilary & shocked to be honest but i think you have really proven yourself and i bet you anything something else even better is going to come out of this. just wait and then laugh & smile all the way to the happiness bank!!

  5. Hilary, graciously said. So sorry it did’t go your way, but I have a sneaking suspicion that it’s going to lead to something even better. I can’t begin to tell you how many jobs I DIDN”T get, but the ones that I DID get – or even better, CREATED – were awesome! Here’s to you and something even better around the bend. All the best, Terri

  6. In a world obsessed with success only, im the few who roots for the one left behind. i relate better to such folks. now back to the contest winners. there was a dude from Afghanistan who made it! Afghanistan. This is like the greatest shit to happen Hilary and you didnt even bring it up. It means this guy (im confident its a guy, cause no girl in Afghi is running around entering online contests) had access to internet, freedom to write what he wants with the Taliban blowing up internet cafes, and actually make it alive through the contest (assuming he will claim to prize, if not, scratch off this last point). Now this is the greatest recognition for all the work undertaken by the allied forces rebuilding there. Yes, they are winning.

    • I am INCREDIBLY excited for all of the finalists! Moska has done such a great campaign (and yes, she’s a girl :). Tourism Australia has given us all the opportunity to connect and showcase the skills of so many people worldwide and that’s a wonderful thing.

      Of course when I wrote this post, writing about the winners was not my focus. A fellow blogger and awesome adventurer, Greg Snell is still in the running for Wildlife Caretaker and I’m so excited for him! But I figured it’d be best to let the finalists tell their own stories and tell my own, since that’s the only one I know about for sure. =)

  7. I admire your optimisim, Hiliary! I’ve been there, with the plans and the visualising, and then it not happening.. and I’ve come out on the other side, many a times! It takes getting knocked down a few times to put your trust into “if it’s meant to be, it’ll be” and “everything works out in the end – if it hasn’t worked out, it’s not the end” it’s kind of the mantra to my travels now – things just seem to fall into place because I let them and trust that they will. Our trip across Canada is proving that so far! Best of luck to you for the bigger and better things to come, sweetie!

    • Thank you so much for your support and sweet words, Kate! I’m so lucky to have your encouragement and sage advice to help guide me. It most certainly is NOT the end (though I KIND OF wish I had a better idea of what the next chapter held ;). Guess it’s time to work all of that out!

      How are you enjoying Canada so far? Where do you think I should head next? Happy adventuring!

  8. Don’t you ever feel like a loser! Trust me no one is looking at you as the loser they’re looking at you as a FIGHTER! You fought soo hard and I am soo proud of you!! You’ve inspired a lot of people and I got you girl!!


    • Thank you so much, Brittany!

      In the moment, it’s hard not to feel like something was lost. But the more that time passes, the more I can only see what I’ve gained through this experience. Life is far from over. And I can’t wait to see what comes next. =) Thanks for sharing in the journey!

  9. I was certain you’d make it and, really, have no idea why they didn’t pick you! There must be something even bigger and better around the corner for you though!!!

    • Thank you, Bethaney! It’s hard to say what happens with contests like this. But I’m VERY excited for all the finalists! I know this will be a great opportunity for all of them. It’s been a great opportunity for all of us regardless!

      And lots of love to you! So thankful to have you in my corner.

      Any suggestions on where you think I should head next?

    • Thank you so much, Melissa! Yes, I’ve been so blessed to reach an even wider audience. I am so grateful for all of your support! I hope you’ll continue to follow the journey!

      If you’re interested, I would LOVE it if you would ‘like’ my Nomad Grad page on Facebook! http://www.Facebook.com/TheNomadGrad

      Where do you think I should travel next?

      Sending you lots of love!

  10. Hilary, There’s evidently another plan for you…another adventure awaits…an even better one. I’m excited to find out what it will be. Que Sera Sera…whatever will be, will be…the future’s not ours to see. Que sera sera.
    (Doris Day…The Man Who Knew to Much)

    • Thank you so much, Stacey! I’m incredibly excited myself. I’m anxiously awaiting the next door to open. In the meantime, I’m trying to reflect and enjoy all that’s happened over the past three weeks. =)

      Thank you for all of your support! Looking forward to sharing the next part of the journey with you! And who doesn’t love Doris Day? =)

  11. Aww, I am sad that it didn’t happen for you, Hilary, but I’ve got to admire your vim and verve! You put yourself way out there, and I’m proud to know someone like you who lives life with such gusto. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?

    Over here on my end, I’ve experienced my own (much) smaller rejections in the form of being turned down from two non-profit organisations I would have loved to work with. Obviously, nothing as demanding as your campaign or quite as glamorous as going to Australia, but I feel ya. However, I’ve been surprised at how well I’ve taken it; I liked that Rumi quote above, and despite my tendency toward pessimism, I really do believe that these little disappointments are only paving the way for something much more satisfying, and I’m sure it’s the same for you.

    Keep us updated on what the next great venture will be!

    • Thanks so much for commenting, Ed. I’m sorry to hear the road has been bumpy and winding for you as well. But I’m CONFIDENT you will make magic happen. After all, no-one lives in France and leaves without a little extra luck =)

      And thank you so much for your support! You KNOW I will continue to share in my adventures and mishaps. =) Where do you think I should travel next?

  12. Hilary, you are AMAZING. If you hadn’t put your heart and soul into this competition, I may never have come across you and your blog and your adventures and your stories. After what feels like a string of personal failures over the past few weeks, I really needed someone to root for, and I really needed to read this blog post.

    Thanks for wiping off your tears, getting up off the floor, and writing this triumphant post. You’re a winner in my book.

    Also, you have held the most exotic animals of anyone I’ve known, so you are a HERO in my book.

    Hope I can hold lions with you one day!

    • Thank you so much for writing this, Amy! I am so grateful that you found me and I’m so grateful for this contest for introducing me to so many wonderful people!

      I really appreciate your encouragement. I look forward to sharing more adventures with you! And I hope you get to do so as well! =)

  13. Dearest Young Lady .. You’ve been an absolute inspiration to so many! This is never ever a LOSS! The older you get, you’ll realize that you really needn’t prove anything to anyone else. The journey is all about knowing you are worth it in spite of what anyone else may think. Period!
    You’ve won the hearts of many people around the globe .. and if you can win another’s heart by just being yourself .. this whole process was simply a reflection of phenomenel things to come πŸ™‚

    I’ll be rooting for you no matter what YOU decide to do! And if true to form, it will come from your heart. I’ve particularly enjoyed following your families unending supportive role. You are an angel traveling lightly and they know it. .. A Canadian Fan πŸ™‚

    • Thank you so much, Maureen, for your kind words! This has been such an incredible process, meeting so many inspirational and wonderful people. I am so lucky to be a part of this journey!

      And thank you so much for your continual support! I’m so lucky to have yours, as well as the support of my family. Lucky lucky girl. =)

      Where do you think I should travel to next?

  14. Hi Hilary, As the saying goes, one door closes and another opens. Just think of the experience that you have gained and that will hold you in good sted in future. Keep in touch, June Guske

    • Thank you so much for your kind words, June! The saying is very true. Looking forward to seeing what’s behind that door that’s opening. =)

      And I certainly will! I hope you’ll continue to follow along with the adventure!

  15. Hilary old mate,
    You could come to Oz and work as a “Jillaroo” on a cattle station (Ranch) in NT on the VRD station or sail in the famous Sydney/Hobart ocean Yatch race starting Boxing Day at Christmas time or you could just “Blog” your way around Australia with a HD Camera and stream it on the US Cable station network ‘Blue Highway’ . What ever you do .. do it well and enjoy life. Say G’Day to your Dad for me. HooRoo

    • All GREAT ideas, Kerry! I’m looking into seeing what I can make happen right now. =)

      Looking forward to being in touch! Lots of love and many thanks for supporting me through this contest!

  16. I remember when you didn’t get into graduate school and I recall how let down you were. But now I see how far you have come and what you are making of your life and it inspires me. In my own life I have faced set back after set back the last three years. I have had to learn to pick myself up, dust myself off, and keep on going. Watching you do the same with such wonderful grace has helped me know that I am not alone, even the most talented and beautiful face set backs and disappointments. I know you are going to conquer the world one day. You just have that kind of determined spirit, its evident in everything you write and all that you try to do.

    • =) Thank you so much for your kind words, Shana! I’m so l lucky to have you backing and supporting me in my journey. I’ve watched you continue to grow and learn and move forward as well and you are much stronger and more graceful than you think!

      Thank you for everything. Looking forward to seeing where both of us go. =)

  17. On one hand, I get how you feel, I get the same way. On the other, you’ve already been to Australia. There are thousands of other places to discover, and the rejection is just here to remind you of that. Plus, you got to hang with Thunder from Down Under. I’d chalk it up as a win πŸ™‚ “Don’t grieve for what doesn’t come. Some things that don’t happen keep disasters from happening” -Rumi

  18. thank you for being so honest about how you feel, Hilary. I was rooting for you, as many were. Still, celebrate what you have accomplished, and you have accomplished much! Looking forward to more adventures from you! There is much in store!

    • Thank YOU Shelley, for posting this comment. It’s hard not to be sad and a little bitter at the moment, but all I can do is move forward! And yes, I believe more great things are on their way. Thank you so much for joining on this journey with me. I hope you’ll continue to follow my adventures!

      Where do you think I should travel to next?

      • You have to be honest to yourself, of course, so there will be a bit of bitterness, but yes, you’ve already made the next step in moving ahead. I think your journey is a real encouragement because although I have not had as many round-the-world adventures as you, I feel for your quest for your place in the sun (especially after graduation.) I definitely will keep following your adventures.

        Why not come see my country, the Philippines? =) I’m too shy to leave a link to my own travel blogposts here, but will find a way to link you up. You just might fall in love with what you will see.

        • I would love to read some of your stuff! I’m sure it’s great. Would you believe I didn’t think I could write? It wasn’t until I put it out there to the internet and started receiving feedback that I felt more comfortable about sharing my thoughts and experiences. Link me up, girl!

          And yes! I’ve actually got a few followers in the Philippines who’ve mentioned me coming their way. I would love that! Trying to work out my next trip now. =)

  19. It really is too bad you didn’t get it, but your optimisme is always striking! Of course it can be easy to be optimistic on a blog, and that’s why I love when you share the little details of you sulking or crying. A nice touch of humanity.
    For me, who is reading through all your posts from start to finish, it’s sort of like I’m getting small teaser-trailers for what I’m about to read from your later blog posts. I mean, I JUST got to the part where you went to Australia and then to Fiji, so I’m guessing you then went back again later?
    I can’t wait to read all of your adventures! πŸ˜€ But aren’t there a lot you don’t post? I don’t remember any posts on your trip to London, which you have mentioned.

    • Thank you! Yeah, of course, it’s easier to be optimistic a few days after the announcement than it was in the middle of the night, wailing about not having a future. I try to keep it real, because sometimes nomadic life isn’t so glamorous. In fact, 99% of it can be pretty anxiety ridden and crazy. But of course, I love it. And I’m glad you like my humanity. =)

      I’m still amazed and SO appreciative that you’re reading my blog start to finish. I am so interested in hearing your thoughts once you’re all caught up.

      There are a lot of adventures I don’t post. Not because I don’t want to, but just for the sake of moving things along or not sure yet how to work them into my current blogging schedule. I figure it’s always better to do more and post the ones I find most interesting. But if you’re interested in reading about something in particular, please let me know! I’m always happy to write posts that are suggested by readers!

      • Haha, I’m just looking forward to seeing the development! πŸ˜€ Your lifestyle is a great inspiration. I’ll let you know if I’m particularly interested in something when it comes up πŸ˜€ How do you do the blogging while traveling? Do you have a notebook?

        • Thank you! And yes, please do!

          It depends on what my travel set-up is, if I have access to my personal laptop or am working off the cloud or have no internet access. I tend just to write everything down in notebooks and take a TON of photos and then decide from there how I want to proceed. =) What about you?

          • When traveling I’ll typically be without a computer. Now, I don’t blog about travels like you, but I do write fiction so it can get quite frustrating not to be able to crank in my minimum word count πŸ˜› But I can live with writing in the hand.
            For the interrail trip this summer I’m traveling with a girl who has a smart phone and she has graciously promised me to let me blog from her phone, so I’ll write my blogs in hand and type them in on her iphone. But they will be short posts x)

            • Haha! I understand. It can be incredibly frustrating to want to write and have no medium for doing so. Conversely, it can be just as frustrating to carry a computer around and have no interest in writing at all, haha!

              Sounds like a nice arrangement. Short posts indeed! I have not yet tried blogging from my phone. I hate even answering e-mails on the thing. Makes me crazy!

              When do you leave for your trip?

              • Haha, yeah, the touch screen is not my friend! I’ll need my buddy to sit beside me, ready for when I make typos.
                I leave on the 6th of July πŸ˜€ We’re going to Berlin first and then to Krakow to see (how joyous) Auschwitch

      • Thailand! I hear that is one of the most beautiful places in the world. I meant this random guy (don’t talk to strangers >o<) the other day who is moving to Thailand to be with his wife next week! He said he's been there before and fell in love with it and is now planning on staying there "forever!"

        • Haha. No talking to strangers eh? How would we ever meet anyone?

          That’s awesome! How lovely for him. Sounds like a great place indeed. I’ve heard nothing but amazing things!

    • Thank you so much! I am so grateful to all of my readers and supporters. I am SO lucky to have such a wonderfully diverse backing around the world!

      I’m so happy to hear you enjoy my writing as well! That means a lot. That photo was taken on my first trip after graduating in Nicaragua. Have you ever been?

        • Oh okay! It’s a country in Central America. It’s a Spanish speaking country full of untouched beaches and volcanoes. Very exciting and beautiful. =)

          I’m so thrilled to hear you say that! I’m loving sharing this experience with you and am SO happy I could introduce you to some cool places. Where are you from?

  20. o chick! what a shame! I know your understanderbly disappointed, BUT good things come to those who wait, and this door may have closed but there is another door, with a BIGGER and BETTER view and your name is on it. What a MASSIVE amount you have achieved in two weeks, and your blogging is EPIC. Take care Nomad, the future is bright and with all the work you just did – you already changed the world! πŸ™‚

    • Thank you so much for your sweet words! I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed the journey! I’ve thoroughly enjoyed sharing it with you. I’m looking forward to the next great thing! I hope it makes it here soon. =)

      Where do you think I should go next?

        • Haha! Don’t think I haven’t thought about throwing a dart at a map and seeing what happens.

          There’s SO many places I would love to visit but haven’t yet. Most of the world, actually. A lot of it has to do with budget or trying to arrange collaboration with tourism boards, but I’m looking into some stuff now. =) My heart says to use this contest as a platform to continue to travel and reach a wider audience. I’m now trying to figure out how best to do that. =)

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