I am no stranger to the F-word. The most dreadful word ever.
A few months ago, I was with some friends and over drinks we came to the topic of fear. We talked about everyone’s ultimate fear. When my turn came, I could only think of a single fear. And that was the fear of failing. Failing at anything. Failing in my career, as a friend, as a sister, as a daughter or in academics thus basically failing in life. Even the mere thought of failing gave me jitters.
A few weeks ago I got a rejection from a firm that I applied to, for an internship position. I sent out my resume and made the cut for an in-person interview. According to me, the interview went well. I answered everything, my resume intrigued them, I was qualified and I made good conversation, and even at some points we all had a nice boardroom laugh. I thought I cracked it. But after a week spent in anticipation, having no calls or no voicemail messages stating “We would like you to come in and discuss the details of the position”, I called them. To my despair, I was told that I didn’t get the job. As much as I tried to forget it, a couple of days after, I received the official email that stated “Rejection” and I could almost hear my heart shattering in my chest. The dreadful “sorry, the position has been filled” and the “your credentials were great but we found someone that suited our needs better” just rubbed salt on my still-fresh wounds. This wasn’t my first rejection. It was the second. The first rejection happened two months ago and I was broken (too dramatic?). Having been a good student, with good grades, a strong personality and a stronger drive, I was not used to rejections. I was told that first rejections hurt and the ones that will follow wont be as bad, but let me tell you, they all hurt just the same. Your resume looks great, you have top universities with suitable degrees, great grades, wonderful accomplishments, you prepared for the field-related questions, you dressed well, you also put the cap on of a good conversationalist but at the end, you are branded with the term “REJECTED”. And then you start all over again. How do we find the courage to start over? To stand up again? To re-adjust the focus, prep the bow and shoot again?
One of my mentors told me that you cannot let a handful of rejections bring you down like that. The workplace is not for the weak-hearted. Even the best batters in baseball have a batting average of meagre 30% (or maybe less, I don’t get baseball). So they only make it thrice out of ten attempts. Considering that average, I didn’t do that bad. We have to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and try again. Every rejection feels like a blow to the gut and makes you question everything about you, your life, your past, your future. Everything. But we need to face it. So, revamp that resume, re-shape that LinkedIn profile, make those phone calls, send those emails, search for jobs and apply. There is going to be someone out there, wanting a candidate exactly like you. Just got to keep trying and trying and trying. It would only be considered failing if you gave up trying.
I hate it when I am told that failure is a part of life. Aren’t there people who get it right in the first go? Thanks to social media, we see our friends and colleagues around us, either working at their dream job, travelling to exotic places, living in dream cities and having the perfect life. It comes to mind that they never failed. They applied to that one job, tried that one time, made that much money overnight and started living their prefect life without so much as a slight wrinkle on their forehead. And here I am, where I have days when I want to just sleep in my dark wardrobe. But what never makes it to the instagram posts or the casual gossips, is their failures. The numerous times when they got rejected, by an employer, a partner or life in general. We never see their world-shattering failures, their low days, their struggle to get back in the game and their undying spirit that makes them transform this failure into the success that meets the eye. So, never let yourself be fooled into believing that those people have reached there without ever failing and without having to pick themselves back up again. What will keep us going is the drive and the desire to succeed. How badly do you want it?
If you give up, you fail. You cannot give up. How unacceptable is failure? Let me tell you, each rejection pushes you to try harder and harder each time. If the ultimate goal is going to be worth it then the journey is going to be rocky, filled with potholes and hazy road signs. But we need to keep going on. The struggle is going to be worth it. It will make us stronger, smarter, more experienced and overall a better person. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right? So keep at it. Keep at it, until it is achieved.
In closing, remember to not let Failures get to your heart and not let success get to your head.
Until next time.