Last night, I got rejected from a job. Not just any job. A job that was on my “Top Three” jobs list. The job everyone thought I’d get. The job I had begun to imagine myself doing, that made me excited.
I learned a lot from this rejection. I learned that I shouldn’t get my hopes up for a job that I don’t fully have yet, that I must remember God’s plan is bigger than my own, and that sometimes what I feel like is a fit might not feel like a fit to someone else. I also learned that I’m thankful and relieved to have other top choices, and I am still praying and hopeful that those work out.
But that didn’t make the rejection any easier.
I cried… hard. A lot harder than I’ve cried in a long time.
You see, the job was in the Chapel Hill area, and as a finalist for it I began to see my life there: continuing to volunteer with Eats 101 (an influential class I took last semester, and one I am continuing to support through an annual fundraiser), living near six of my closest friends—three close friends from high school and three close friends from college, being near all my favorite restaurants and within a short drive to my parents. The job felt so right, playing to all my strengths, but would push me to learn some new skills, too. Everything felt like it was finally falling into place, after having a stressful fall semester of going for jobs that either I turned down or that turned me down.
I was led to believe I was a strong candidate for the position, which further confirmed in my mind that the job would work out. When I got the surprising email last night, I was devastated. I felt like the community I had built in high school and college was being pulled out from under me, and that I was a total failure.
Do you ever feel like you’re always the Second Pick? Like you’re Almost But Not Quite Good Enough?
As I continue to almost get certain opportunities, I can’t help but ask: What is the solution? To be unemotional and callous about all opportunities to save my heart? But that’s impossible, and it’s not me. I am a passionate and emotional person. I can’t just turn that off. Besides, how do I convey in an interview that I want a job if I convince myself to be uninterested?
I feel like the second pick all the time, but the beautiful part of surrounding myself with amazing people is that those people remind me that I am the first pick in their eyes. Last night, my roommate sat with me while we ate takeout food and watched the Olympics. My best friend picked me up from an event—an event I was sitting in when I got the unfortunate email—and let me sit in her car and cry. My best guy friend brought me a pint of Talenti which we quickly devoured. Friends texted me and called. My parents sent me essays about how everything would work out eventually, reminding me of other potential opportunities.
In my lowest moments, I am thankful for a community of people who care. But it was hard to swallow that last night, because some of those same people were the people I had hoped to be living near next year. And now that this job didn’t work out, the possibility that I live in Chapel Hill inches closer to zero.
The hardest part about February of senior year is not that I don’t know what my job will be. I’m past the anxiety of everyone else knowing what they’re doing while I don’t. No, the hardest part about February of senior year is seeing everyone else commit to their newest city and community, while I stand back unsure where I’ll be and who will be there with me. Friends have their housing, have planned road trips to visit their new city over spring break, and actively discuss their lives for the next couple years.
I know that a job will work out. I am currently applying for more exciting opportunities, opportunities that could be phenomenal fits. But relationships are the most important entity in my life, and not knowing how I’ll maintain those or where I’ll be in relation to my friends is difficult. I am thankful that this semester I chose relationships over commitments, because now I have another three months to invest in people that I may not be living near next year. And I am thankful that these people see me as their First Pick, even when the world chews me up and spits me out as a Second Pick.