“We start with stars in our eyes
We start believing that we belong
But every sun doesn’t rise
And no one tells you where you went wrong”-
“Waving Through a Window”, Dear Evan Hansen
April 27, 2018 By: Sarah Betteridge
My daughter is seven and at an age where she consistently “puts herself out there”, and I am so proud of her. She will casually approach other children and strike up a conversation without hesitation. If they don’t reciprocate, she shrugs it off and finds someone else to play with. Do you remember being like that, feeling like, “Ok, whatever, I’ll just find someone else to talk to.”? There’s no self-doubt or self-examination of what happened, what went wrong, and what should I do the next time. As we get older, I think that “go get’em’” attitude can easily wan and therefore sabotage our efforts. We lose our sunny disposition, and we are wary and suspicious. The fear of being rejected is real and can make us less likely to make the effort. Which in turn can set us up to fail, especially when it comes to job interviews.
I speak about this from a place of complete understanding. I wouldn’t say that I have really ever had my daughter’s verve when it comes to being extroverted, but I would honestly say that as a child/ young adult, I had it pretty easy. Truthfully, I didn’t go too far out of my comfort zone, but when I made an attempt, I was rewarded with amazing opportunities. I had a lead role in the high school musical, I was accepted into the Disney World College Program and whenever I went on a job interview, I mainly got the job. It wasn’t to say that I wasn’t nervous when I interviewed, but my track record was good, so I didn’t literally sweat it.
That all changed at the end of 2012. After almost three years of staying home with the aforementioned daughter, I decided to re-join the workforce. My degree is in English Education, but with some work experience in Human Resources, I was open to either career path. At that time, the country was still recovering from the recession, so teaching job vacancies were at an all-time low, and the unemployment rate was still pretty high. I wasn’t expecting to find a job immediately, but I was pretty sure that I would find something pretty soon. I wasn’t worried.
I put my resume on the websites and did all the things that I thought would get a job. I attracted some attention, and I started going on interviews. I went on some second interviews. I got excited and hopeful, and I even started looking into childcare arrangements for my daughter. Then I got the calls, they went with someone else. Someone else had some degree or certification that I didn’t have. Sometimes it was just radio silence. Over and over, I went through the cycle and no happy ending. One company with a remote position interviewed me through Skype, which I thought went really well, and I got my hopes up super high. The next week, I got the rejection email. Six months later, they called me back and offered to fly me out for a face to face interview. I went on a Sunday. On Tuesday, the email read “Thank you…blah, blah…but…”.
I had been rejected by the same company twice. Basically, I had gone on a second date with someone who had already said, “No thanks”, and expected this time to be different, “This time I’ll make you like me!!”.
To say it was tough was an understatement. I was broken, I was battered and I felt the lowest I’d ever felt. I’d never dealt with rejection of this magnitude before. Maybe someone else could shrug this all off. Maybe they could dust themselves off and get back out there again. I just wasn’t prepared for how it felt. It wasn’t just rejection from a job, it felt like some denying me the chance to prove myself and more importantly, provide for my family. Before this time, I was confident in my worth in the workplace, and now I was doubting that. And I’m sure it showed as time wore on. I didn’t give up, but I constantly let my nerves get the best of me, and I know that I didn’t always give the best impression.
Although this experience was hard, I had many things to be thankful for during this time, including a little girl who never questioned my worth. I wish I could say that I took my cue from her and became more resilient. But the truth is, I kept limping along until I was finally given a chance as a temporary employee in an HR Department. I knew that I wasn’t going to throw away this shot, I proved myself and was eventually hired. So, my story does have a happy ending, but I tell it also as a cautionary tale. Be prepared when it comes to rejection and the fact that not every opportunity is for you. Be patient but not complacent and make it happen for yourself. Just don’t give up. It may seem impossible now, but it will happen for you! Trust me.
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