You’re NOT the one: When rejection hits

Since taking the plunge back into part-time teaching last year, I’ve decided to go back into the full-time classroom.  Well, I decided to apply.  It’s ultimately someone else’s decision whether they let me in or not.  

Copy of Classroom Rules Template (1)In the last three months, I’ve applied for over 70 positions in 29 different schools across three school systems.  

I’ve had just one interview.  I thought it went well.  I didn’t get the job.  I was glad for the experience of interviewing because I learned some valuable things.  

So imagine my delight when I received a voice mail message from a principal last week.  [S]he called to discuss one of the positions I applied for.

The principal asked about my teaching background and after politely listening to me, told me I came highly recommended.  

Sounds great, right?  My insides were being flooded with adrenaline. But wait, it gets better!  [S]he added that it seems like I would be a great fit for the school. This is going great!

I was waiting for the invitation to come to the school to interview.  

Then the principal said [s]he wanted to be totally honest with me, “I hired the teacher I needed yesterday.”  

My mind screamed, “What?!?”

My adrenaline-fused heart suddenly stopped beating.

My knotted stomach flipped just as all the air was sucked out of my lungs.  

Meanwhile, my eyes filled with water just as my brain was sending signals for that water not to spill down my cheeks.  

The principal kept talking. I think [s]he said something like “I’ll keep you in mind.”

I responded with “Thank you,” forcing myself to smile (I learned that trick years ago in customer service).  

As soon as the call ended, I bowed my head low.  I let the tears gush immediately while sobbing and trying to breathe.

That was a first.  Thankfully, I was with a friend so I wasn’t able to go throw myself on my bed, hide under the covers and cry uncontrollably.  But that is what I really wanted to do.  

That wasn’t the first time I’ve been rejected.  I’ve faced rejection, like all of you, many times in my life.  Whether big or small, rejection always feels bad. However, this felt different. It felt mean.  

Was this intentionally building me up to knock me down?

If the principal had already hired someone the day before, why even bother calling?  Why not ignore my email, ignore my application, like so many others have done?  

Or, why not send a rejection email?  I’ve gotten a few of those.  “Thank you for your interest in blah, blah, blah…but we’ve filled the position.”

Thanks to my friend, right after that call my mind was distracted with more pleasant topics.  Then later that day I was on my way across the country for a wedding reception.  More distraction.  

Now I’m back home with more time on my hands.  I have applied for more jobs.  I’m gearing up for more rejection which caused me to stumble upon a helpful article with this powerful paragraph:

Unfortunately, the greatest damage rejection causes is usually self-inflicted. Indeed, our natural response to being dumped by a dating partner or getting picked last for a team is not just to lick our wounds but to become intensely self-critical. We call ourselves names, lament our shortcomings, and feel disgusted with ourselves. In other words, just when our self-esteem is hurting most, we go and damage it even further. Doing so is emotionally unhealthy and psychologically self-destructive yet every single one of us has done it at one time or another.  ~ Guy Winch, licensed psychologist and author

So what does Winch suggest instead?  He lists three things:  Have zero tolerance for self-criticism, revive your self-worth and boost feelings of social connection.  These things are supposed to help you recover sooner and move on with confidence.  

Have Zero Tolerance for Self-Criticism

Calling myself names, like “failure” and “loser” or saying “no one wants to hire an old teacher” does nothing to help and everything to hurt.

Revive Your Self-Worth

He suggests making a list of five important or meaningful qualities you have.  Let’s see. . .

  • I’m empathetic and compassionate.
  • I’m a loyal friend.
  • I’m a person of faith.
  • I’m an encourager.
  • I have enthusiasm for things I love.

That list took way too long to compile and I somewhat cheated because I pulled out my “StrengthFinder 2.0” book to see what my strengths were. (Most of the above list is from my results).

Boost Feelings of Social Connection

Remind myself I’m appreciated and loved. Well, my puppy Rocky loves and appreciates me.  No, seriously, my husband loves me most when I don’t deserve it.

So what do I do?  Whether the rejection is big or small, kindly conveyed or delivered dirtily, I’m trying to remember that negative self-talk doesn’t help, but positive self-talk does.  



One thought on “You’re NOT the one: When rejection hits

  1. That phone call reminds me of what writers refer to as an “encouraging rejection”: the story or essay isn’t right for the publication, but the editor takes time to explain why and make positive comments about the work. Near-misses can be harder to take than a form rejection. Meanwhile, Winch’s advice is good, and maybe that phone call will lead to an interview and a job offer. Hang in there!

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