Pressing submit on that first job application holds an expectation. You’re positive that you’ll hear back in a week with news that you’re worthy, that they’re interested, that you won’t have to worry.
Once sent out into the world, I excitedly told anyone about those first applications, my optimism leaking through, giving out the details of the job, how I would like it. I genuinely thought it would all come easily. My time in a new town, a new state, would find its footing.
Even during our long trek to North Carolina, I kept the faith. It doesn’t matter I haven’t heard back yet. It will be different when we’re down there, at our new address. They would meet me face to face, sense my work ethic. Everything would be fine.
Ten days into life in Asheville, over a month of applying, I’ve sent out over thirty applications, written more cover letters than I care to count. My shiny outlook wanes. I haven’t been here that long. I just need to go out and give them my resume directly.
With a leather portfolio stuffed with resumes and references, Josh and I drove into Asheville. For the first time in weeks I felt a spark of hope. This would be the turning point. No more sparse emails apologizing for the high influx of applications, no more unanswered applications waiting neatly and patiently in their inboxes.
I had a plan. Two definite locations, with more shops scattered through the area where I could drop in.
The first location, a local shop with great reviews online. We walked in, Josh keeping his distance while also offering his support. I instantly loved it. Crystals in large bowls, a bohemian corner in the back for readings. I imagined working there, felt that hint of productive energy in my life again.
I walked up to the register, a woman organizing some papers at the front. My heart beat hard in my chest. This was the moment.
I introduced myself, told her that I loved her store and asked if I could leave my resume. She glanced up from her pile.
“We’re not hiring right now.”
I paused. What I had foolishly built up in my head had begun to crumble around me.
I asked if I could still leave my resume to be considered in the future. She took it, then handed it back. Yet another rejection.
“Actually, we’re paper free, so just email us.”
To my already fragile mental state, this sentence stung again, for no discernible reason. She wasn’t being rude, just factual. But, it hurt nonetheless. My own sensitivity embarrassed me.
I told her that I would email her, and thanked her for her time. She wandered off halfway through my sentence.
I had been building up courage for a week to boldly walk into businesses and discuss employment. Why hadn’t I prepared for this? Of course there would be more rejection, and I felt foolish for thinking otherwise.
Josh met me at the door, where he had been waiting for me. We stepped outside and I slid my sunglasses on. I could feel a prickle behind my eyes, a fullness in my throat, which made me feel like even more of a failure. I hadn’t realized that face-to-face rejection would hurt more than an ignored application.
All I felt was that nobody is interested in me.
After a month of applications going nowhere, this one brush-off was all I could emotionally handle. As I was feeling naive, Josh wrapped his arm around my waist, and we walked with no end, no goal in sight.
The street seemed darker now, as our feet led us back to the car.
“Are we going home?” Josh asked.
“Let’s go to one more place.”
Driving to the jewelry store I applied to a couple weeks ago, I dropped my expectations. If I get embarrassed, so what? What’s one more rejection? Add it to the pile.
Straightening up, I entered into the most beautiful jewelry store I had ever been inside.
An hour later, I walked out, an impromptu interview completed and a promise of a second interview the following week. Relief washed over me; even if they don’t hire me, at least they gave me a chance.
Rejection is a hard pill to swallow, and is seemingly a rite of passage as an adult. We’re forced to take it with a smile and carry on because that’s what we’re expected to do. Don’t make a fuss.
I agree with this to a point. Perspective is everything. In the future, when I’m settled with a steady income, I’ll look back on this time and appreciate the rejections. They led me in the right direction. But, to someone who is struggling, that concept is hard to be fully grasped.
Life isn’t always easy, and the struggle makes the success that much sweeter. So, I’m basking in these rejections, waiting for the day I can prove to myself how valuable I am.