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Facing Rejection and It’s Ok to Cry

Earlier today, I received some disappointing news that I was halfway expecting. I had recently interviewed for a promotion at two different locations within my company, and was informed that for both someone else had been selected instead of me.

During each of the ‘bad news’ phone calls I was able to keep my calm, despite being told that while I had interviewed exceptionally well and was well qualified for the position, they were going in a “different direction.”

I appreciated having the news delivered to me one-on-one  and not having to wait in limbo for the official announcements to come through in the form of a mass e-mail, but being told I wasn’t quite good enough for this position still stung. Especially since I was faced with the same news twice in one week.

Prior to either call, I had already set myself up for the possibility of not getting it, so when the first rejection came in, I wasn’t very upset and looked for the silver lining (I still had another chance at the other one, and that location isn’t the easiest for me to get to anyway). I guess sometime over the course of the week I had subconsciously decided that I really wanted the other spot, so when that call came in, I was much more upset.

At the time of the call, I was on lunch break from work and had stopped at the nearby mall to run a quick errand. Since I was in public, I kept a straight face, completed the purchase already in progress and tried to continue on as usual. Upon leaving the store I spent a few minutes wandering aimlessly and figured a good way to cheer myself up would be to spend a giftcard I’d received for my birthday and buy something spontaneously for myself. Luckily, one of my favorite stores is in that mall, and it happened to be where my giftcard was for… and they were having a sale.  I found something pretty, started feeling better, and headed back to work.

I guess I really am bad at hiding my emotions, as several people commented on my sad expression when I returned to work, which only served to make things worse for me. Trying to keep my composure and knowing I was very close to tears, I quickly set about finding something else to occupy my time, and not have to keep talking about the rejection.

I was fine for a while, but out of nowhere a solitary tear streamed down my face and landed very close to the phone I was repairing.  One of my co-workers noticed and after trying to say positive things–which only made the tears fall faster–sought backup, and I ended up hanging out with my manager in the office for the better part of the afternoon.

My manager really helped improve my outlook by letting me sit there and mope for exactly three minutes, then forcing me to look for the positives in the situation and helped me draft a mental game plan for the next time an opportunity like this arises. His advice and words of encouragement really helped me, along with his letting me just sit there and process for a defined amount of time in silence. I was a little shocked at how compassionate he was in this situation, as only a few hours earlier he was relentlessly teasing me about how my hair today looked like I had been “out very late and doing things that aren’t appropriate to talk about at work all night.”

For some people (like myself) those tears are an important part of the process of getting over some unpleasant news. I’m not saying that every time I receive bad news I become a waterworks, but every now and then it does happen.

From this experience I did manage to learn some valuable and important lessons. While it stinks that I was passed over for these particular positions, I know that next time an opportunity comes along I’ll have a better plan ready that will make me the obvious choice for the position, and it would be silly not to pick me. And, not that everything happens for a reason, but in this case I think there is probably a bigger and better opportunity in my future, and what I’ve learned from these interviews and rejections will just help prepare me for whatever happens in my future.

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