Rejection, It’s Not So Bad

I’ve been a stay at home mum for the last 4 years. I’ve recently decided to step back onto the career ladder. To date, I have had a pretty good experience with my ‘return to work project’. However, yesterday I received a ‘no’ response from an organisation that I really wanted to say ‘yes’. So the good news is that this is the first response I have felt drawn to blog about and the bad news is that a ‘no’ can be disappointing despite your best efforts not to get too emotionally attached to the outcome.

So what is this all about? My ‘return to work’ project is not simply about securing a job. It is about securing work that stimulates my intellect, is flexible enough to allow me to retain my primary position — that of a homemaker and mum and allows access to a community of interesting, like minded people who get me and vice versa. My strategy to achieve this has been to network with people, research new concepts, develop new thoughts but ultimately to have ‘the conversation’. That conversation is about a) understanding you b) understanding me and c) working out whether there is mutual benefit to do something together. If so, I believe that we will find a way to make it work, it’s the outcome not the driver.

I approached one very go ahead, modern thinking organisation to ask for ‘a conversation’. Their response was a ‘no’ — which by the way, I am normally completely fine with. My attitude is that if you don’t ask you don’t get, it’s a numbers game and you need quite a few no’s to get to the yes’s. So why has their response ignited my motivation to write about it? I don’t normally feel this disappointed? Maybe I wanted them to say ‘yes’ more than others because of who they are and my expectations of them. Interesting isn’t it, how a seemingly polite rebuttal is more disappointing from some than others. It reminds me of a philosophical lesson I had about not making assumptions about what other people think — if someone doesn’t call you back maybe it’s because they just didn’t call you back rather than a host of other, negative reasons linked to ego, fear and insecurity. If you take this attitude, it is far easier to call again in a few days time because you are not allowing yourself to a) be offended by the unreturned call or b) assume it is about you.

But I did find myself making assumptions about the ‘no’ — did they assume that my career break equated to a lack of experience for the modern day business or that I am too irrelevant after spending time in the family environment or that I do not have any value to bring as my experience means I’m too long in the tooth to learn new tricks? Their response has somehow triggered these thoughts which are clearly a reflection of my own fears rather than anything they are thinking.

And so I find myself checking how relevant I am and challenging what my career break achieved. Here is the list of new skills and knowledge that I came up with:

1. I became responsible for three human lives, those of my children. My scope is enormous is covers keeping them alive, well and healthy, emotional development and management, spiritual and morale education, intellectual and creative development, communications and people management and learning to be the chief peace negotiator

2. I was part of two traumatic and heartbreaking deaths, my brother-in-law from motor neurone disease and my father from cancer. I learnt about heartbreak, grief and depression, seizing the day, the strength of the human spirit, what suffering looks like, perspective and what really matters but most of all, unconditional love

3. I ran a vintage boutique and set up a fashion and design blog. I discovered a creative streak in me that filled a gap that I didn’t even know was there. I learnt that beauty soothes the soul and can come in many forms and sizes

4. I read, studied and explored new ideas and concepts. I learnt that developing the mind does not happen in a target driven, stressful and busy working environment. It happens on long walks, doing laps in the pool, through meditation, by engaging with new people who see the world from difference perspectives, by doing something different rather that what we have always done

5. I had new experiences and attended different types of events. I learnt that success is achieved through much more that a job, money and status. It is about the affect we have on people, what we can give to them rather than take ourselves, learning to be and develop who we really are without fear of stigma or peer pressure. But most of all I learnt that freedom is true success

6. I did ‘pro bono’ consulting projects to keep my mind active but avoid the stress of being paid to deliver. I learnt that I am motivated by the intellectual engagement and helping others. I also experienced the freedom of consulting without fear or getting it wrong or not being paid — it was liberating.

So my career break has been a massive lesson in life resulting in a wiser, older but still determined and bloody minded woman. Thank goodness for that ‘no’ last night otherwise I may have never had challenged myself and seen just how much it is possible to learn by taking time out.

I may be 46 years old but hopefully, only half way though my life so still plenty of time left to change the world — a few ‘no’s’ won’t change that but pausing for thought about how they make you feel is no bad thing.

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Nik Davis

Nik Davis

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Nik has a mission - to be brave, challenge the norm and tell it how it is. To share her failings and challenges, to help manage this mad thing called life.