On Facing Rejection

Hi everyone – it’s been a while! I’ve been all over the place mentally, trying to get my life in order. I don’t like saying it that way, because my life is pretty awesome, but sometimes it feels like everything is a mess and needs to be taped back together. I’m trying to keep myself on track in my health journey, trying to figure out how to get more activity into my days, trying to figure out how to find myself a sustainable job, and trying to generally feel balanced. They’re all lofty goals, and everything feels like it’s at risk of falling apart if I make the wrong move. I think it may benefit me to focus on one thing at a time – but sometimes life requires you to balance many changes at once!

For the purposes of this post, I can (and I want to!) focus on just one thing, and that’s facing rejection. I’ve done a whoooole lot of this in my short life, if only for one very specific reason: I did a heck of a lot of theatre during my University years, and while I have a lot of shows on my resume, I auditioned for a whole lot more than I got cast in. I got very used to hearing “no” – or, more accurately, hearing nothing at all after an audition and just having to assume I didn’t get it. Gradually the rejection in that context became easier and easier to stomach. I learned that it wasn’t always about me, and that there were myriad factors that played into whether I would be hired. And that was fine, because there was always another audition around the corner. The rejection was a hit to the ego, but once I got past the initial sting of “no” (or silence) I started to put myself out there more, and as a consequence I got offered more opportunities.

This doesn’t exactly translate to my current job search. For one, the stakes are a lot higher. I’m looking for something that I want to do every day that will also provide my livelihood. I’m very fortunate to have had a lot of savings and a lot of help, allowing me to prolongue the job-hunt as I work part-time. But as I’ve discovered in the last year, being rejected from something you really want (and need) doesn’t only sting – it burns.

I had a particularly nasty day on Monday, starting with a massive delay on my commute. Then, mid-day I received a highly anticipated follow-up from an interview I had last week: and it was a “no”. All of a sudden, all of the negative self-talk I’ve been shushing over the past few years bubbled up to the surface and just started firing at me willy-nilly. I had walked into that interview feeling good, and I left it feeling even better. I couldn’t see how they wouldn’t want to see me again. Over the next couple of days I second guessed some of my answers to their questions, but I was sure I would have a chance to prove myself again. When I got the “no” on Monday, I was full of confusion and uncertainty. I don’t feel better about it yet, per se, but I feel calmer. I’ll admit I drowned my sorrow in a ton of popcorn – which I didn’t want to do and did out of habit and compulsion – but my reaction could have been much worse.

I think hearing “no” is so hard in this context because I felt so GOOD about my performance. I was myself in the interview: I felt genuine, funny and like I fit in. I felt like I was, despite my relative youth and inexperience, able to do the job in question. And then, to find out it just wasn’t the right fit, my brain started going, “Why? Was it your personality? Did you make an inappropriate joke? Was your shirt gaping? Did you come off too keen?” Of course, all of a sudden I’m a loser, a fuck-up, an underachiever…and while I’m yelling all of these horrible things at myself, I’m also yelling at myself to “SHUT UP!” Instead of being kind to myself, I fought fire with fire. I’m lucky I had my partner and my mom to be the voice of calm during my little mental storm.

It’s hard to feel invincible and then be told you’re not, but that seems to be the reality of the job market: I may have to do a lot more interviews before I find “the One” (or “the One” for now.) As I move through my job search, I need to realize the lesson I learned while I pursued theatre in University: keep putting yourself out there, and the opportunities will come. The more people I meet, who find out who I am and what I’m about, the more doors will open for me. And each rejection, while a shock to the ego, is an opportunity to find something else and something that might be an even better fit.

Have any tips and tricks for getting over rejection? I’m still feeling kind of funky, so I’d love to read them in the comments.

Peace and love,

Stephanie

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