For the past nine years, Lindsay Sterling has traveled the world by going into other people’s kitchens in Maine. “I basically ask immigrants for cooking lessons,” she told us while sitting in her own kitchen in Freeport. “They cook their food, and I watch and take notes and videos so that I can write the recipes.” They’re shared on her website, www.immigrantkitchens.com .

Sterling’s curiosity has exposed her to the cuisines and cultures of more than eighty countries in all. “Tanzania. Burundi. A lot of African countries. But I’ve done every continent. My favorite dishes are Nicaraguan and Bolivian.”

It’s fun and rewarding work, but recently she heard about an opportunity that caused her to light up with excitement: a one-year gig for The New York Times, going to and writing about every spot on the Times’ list of 52 places to visit in 2018. The Times encouraged readers to apply and promised to pick a winner from those who did. To Lindsay, it sounded like a dream job. She entered the contest. So did 13,000 other people. Not a typo: 13,000. “I suspected a lot of other people were going to apply,” she said. “I put the application in and put it out of my mind because it really was not realistic.”

The Times says it looked at every application—now there’s a job that’ll make your eyes glaze over—before thinning the herd to 100 finalists. One of them was a thrilled and grateful and stunned Lindsay Sterling. In terms of the contest, she was a member of the 1%.

This week the word came in: Lindsay was not chosen. The news was disappointing, sure, but not surprising, and she says merely having applied for the job has left her with a new motivation and a new energy. “You’ve got to go for exciting things,” she said, “to give yourself that sense of possibility.”