Ok this title is a little bit dramatic. But there is truth to it on some level. Sarcastic truth, but truth nonetheless.
No, I have not been a reject outcast my whole life, though my RBF (resting-bitch-face for those of you stuck in the 90’s) does tend to keep me distanced from people on some level. It’s a craft I’ve honed over time. I’m really not mean, I do like people, I’m just allowing myself the ability to be somewhat picky in my interactions with people. Have I not had coffee today? RBF to the rescue. Is my toddler throwing tantrums like right-hooks today? RBF for the win. It’s useful.
When I was young I had friends. I had a lot of friends. I feel like I was one of those people who was likeable? I played sports. I was in clubs. I enjoyed parties and sporting events and holiday fun with my tribe. I was always on the go. I was alway busy doing something. But as a teen I had a harsh wake up call when my family went through the most startling shock to our system with my father going to prison. THIS brought on a whole new normal. THIS was probably the start to my mild form of trust and isolation issues. THIS was my first ‘rejection’ that I can recall to date.
Friends were all like ‘Bye Felicial’. Ok not really, I had some loyal ones out there who never wavered or left my side. They knew I had no control over our families situation, nor did I even really understand everything that was happening. They knew me and my family and they loved us no matter what. BUT reality proves to you that your Tribe, like.. your REAL TRIBE, is small. Very small. So small that you can likely count on one hand, small. And hard times bring that to the forefront of your life.
Not only did this bring on rejection from my friends, which to a 15 year old girl is like, life… but from the community and my extended family as well. My own father’s family (again not ALL but the vast majority) were long gone. No one called, no one wanted to help, no one cared. My branch on that family tree was shameful and an embarassment and seemed to be hacked off with a skillsaw. Whatever. I don’t really need narcisisim in my life anyway… and THAT is not a defense mechanism. As an adult you see things SO MUCH DIFFERENTLY than as a child, and the biggest realization about this particular topic is that my fathers family is literally the biggest hypocritical bunch of narcissists you will ever have the misfortune of meeting. Sorry Not Sorry, Rosebrooks.
So starting in my teenage years, I began to really question everything. I questioned literally every persons intentions with me. I pushed old friends away, which to this day I still regret. I was skeptical of new friends in college and overly critical of everything. Again, I regret. I kept my tribe small, and by small I mean nearly non-existant. THIS was a defense mechanism. This was a way for me to control the impact that other people had on me and my life. Or so I though. I don’t really know- because now I realize that it also prevented me from having more joy. It limited my life experience during these years. I clearly did not handle rejection in the best way.
My sister and I joke and call ourselves the ‘black sheep’ and though we joke, y’all, we know its so true. We both use humor as a way of coping… and it softens the blow.
During college, I literally rejected myself. I had the mentality that I needed to settle and was always afraid to take on goals and challenges that seemed to difficult and too hard. I had the mentality that I could not accomplish these things, I was not able to do these things. So I had the mentality of, Settling. WHICH TODAY I HATE MYSELF FOR. In 2010 I received my Bachelor’s of Science in Kinesiology. It was, at the time a huge accomplishment and also a huge relief. I was so happy I was done with my bachelor’s and so relieved that ‘I couldn’t fail anymore’. Boy, was I wrong. I failed a lot- and its literally all my fault. *Bachelor’s of Science in Kinesology*… sounds cool right? What in the literal fuck do you do with your Bachelor’s of Science in Kinesology? I realized quickly that unless I continued school, I was not going to be doing anything that I wanted to do. However resources were scarce and a job was a necessity.
*Enter Sales Representative Job*
Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful for the fact that I landed a job after college. The job market is hard. I met my best friend and my husband through this opportunitiy. So by no means do I wish to change this. But there are no words that describe how much I don’t enjoy Sales. I don’t. There I said it. My friends and family know this about me, but I have never put it out into the world before. I did well in my Sales job. I did what I had to do. I produced numbers or hit whatever goals I needed to. But I hated nearly every second of it. I had applied for a couple of positions within the company to try to transition myself out of direct SALES and into more of a sales support/supervisory/training etc role. Rejected. But whatever, I was young, I will surely not be doing something I don’t enjoy forever. Right?
Many years and many positions later, with the same company, I find myself in another state (Minnesota) and in another phase of life (motherhood/wifehood). I definitely had some positions I enjoyed, but not fully. Not really anything that made me happy on a daily basis. But isn’t that what you do? You wake up every day and do whatever it is that you need to do to provide for your family and yourself. You survive and move on with life. Well earlier this year, my company announced it was for sale and an entire new shitstorm was created. People could see the writing on the wall and abandonded ship one by one. Which personally I find smart. I mean the company was literally sinking, it was all a huge mismanagement of resources. I feel like we lived out a remake of the collapse of the Roman Empire. How a company can go from te top to the bottom in such a manner is a discussion for another day.. with whiskey… and carbs. It was a stressful time to say the least.
When my division of the company was absorbed into another entity, I was not kept. I recall sitting down with the new, soon-to-be owner and I blatantly told him, I hate sales. Period. Mind you, I was back in a sales position at this time. So probably wasn’t my best strategic move had I wanted to be retained, but can I say that it was such a good feeling to just be blunt. It was liberating. What did I have to lose? (besides a job, obviously). But I spent that meeting explaining what else I had brought to the table during my tenure in other positions. With a long-shot hope that there would be some value seen. And in that meeting, there seemed to be some value found.. But it was clearly short-lived because when the transition happened I was not retained as an employee. It sucks to be rejected. And I was sad for like… a day. But I didnt let it consume me. My family was moving. My husband – who is probably one of the best salesmen I have ever known or will ever known… He’s like the love child of Billy Mayes and Zig Ziglar…. on steroids- found a new job opportunity that we could not pass up. The potential opportunities were glaring and endless so we took a leap of faith, and moved our family to Iowa.
The timing of my being rejected by the new ownership of my previous company was actually semi-ideal. We moved and I had the opportunity of staying home with my kids all summer in our new town. It allowed for us to get settled. It allowed for us to explore our new town and learn the ropes a bit. It has allowed for me to stay home with my toddler and not miss lots of fun new milestones that he has accomplished. I am so grateful for that. See, all rejection isnt bad. Had I not been rejected of so many jobs I wanted right out of college – I would not have found the job that lead me to my best friend and my husband. Had I not been rejected from the new ownership in my last job I would have missed out on the last few months with my littles.
This brings me to my latest rejetction.
I applied for a job with a company that I sincerely and whole-heartedly wanted to become a part of. I applied for many jobs with said company actually. Have you ever just had a gut feeling about something? Like, I feel like I belong here and I cannot ignore the feeing? That was how I was feeling.
After multiple conversations with recruiters in HR, I was able to land a 6-Person Panel interview for a job that I genuinely feel would be the next steppingstone in my career. If I were going to stay in the corporate world, in a sales driven track, this was it. I have all of the necessary experience. I have all of the skills and needs for this position. It was like it was meant to be. Or so I thought. I was scheduled for the panel interview immediately after the phone interview. Good Sign. I was extremely nervous, I had never had so many people interview me at once- so I recall lots of research on ‘what to expect in a panel interveiw’. I prepped, and prepped and prepped my heart out. On interview day, I felt prepared. I nailed the interview. I made that interview my bitch. I got laughs from everyone. I had answers for everything. The nerves were gone and I simply kicked ass. I even received a compliment from the higher up once the interview was complete, ‘You did extremely well with 6 people firing questions at you, nicely done’.
I left feeling confident and excited.
Two weeks later, after some followup, I received an invite to coffee with the hiring manager. This is GREAT NEWS! Strange to do a one-on-one coffee date AFTER a panel interview, but I was elated. I prepared for a normal interview but with the expectation that, maybe she siply wanted to get to know me a bit more before they made a decision, all good. I show up, she doesn’t get a coffee. WTF? Bad sign.
At this coffee shop in our new town I was rejected. I was told that I check ‘every box’ for what they need but they need someone who is going to be more analytical and hold the sales teams accountable for the success of the programs… etc etc… I wont get into that part. After a couple of rebuttles with my experience and what I can bring to her team, it was evident that this was not a negotiation, she had made the decision.
But the point is, I was told, 1. everyone liked me, 2. I checked all of the boxes, 3. I had the background they wanted. My mind was kind of blown. I feel like if you wanted to take me to coffee to give me feedback, the least you could do was give me actual feedbad…. because I feel I didn’t receive anything I can build upon or work on. Maybe it was my personality? Maybe my RBF was shining through. I’m sure during coffee it was. On some level I find it cruel to take someone to a public place and reject them on the spot like that. Pretty sure no one I can think of would walk into that situation expecting what I experienced. Rejection does suck in the short term, especially when it’s for something you actually really wanted. So I sat there holding myself together in a public coffee shop trying to navigate the remainder of the meeting until I could make it to my car and actually cry a little. What the fuck just happened?
Rejection sucks in the short term. But if I have learned anything from all of my experiences with rejections is that it’s not the end. It’s simply a left turn in the road of life. You take it, you move on and you figure out the next turn. I let mysef sulk for a day after that coffee date. I cried. I yelled. I ate a giant slice of pumpkin pecan cheesecake (because #basic) from the cheesecake factory while my husband and I had a heart to heart. Much needed.
The next day I woke up with more clarity. I kissed my baby. I went to the gym. I drank a cup of coffee. I did some research. Because even though I might have felt down, or like a failure, or like I was so close to getting something I wanted, it was not the end of the world. It was simply time to figure out my next step.
Is this time to grind it out and continue to apply for a million other jobs? Is this time to re-evaluate my career path even moreso and take steps to move in another direction? Is this time to entertain my going back to school?
I can tell you one thing, I am compiling a plan. I am not going to let rejections in life set the tone for my future. I will not allow rejection to isolate me or make me feel sorry for myself like I might have when I was younger. I’m older and wiser – self-proclaimed, but still. I am getting support from all of the right places. I am not going to just settle. I can tell you that I dont know exactly what my future looks like or my next career move, but I do have an idea of how I’m going to get there. I can tell you that rejection sucks in the short term, but no one would be where they are today without it. And I can certainly tell you that my future will not be in sales.
Quote of the day from my husband as we sat and discussed an option for my future that would entail a lot of work and a hard year ahead, but would have immense payoff for myself and our future, “…And Imagine, you would never have to sell anything again…”.
As hard as we laughed at that line, I think that is how he sold me on my next steps in life.