Today I got an email of rejection. I did not get the job at the Malala Fund.
I went outside to my backyard, looked up at the sky; bright blue, cloudless.
Are you kidding me?
All I can do is laugh, blink, and not understand.
I don’t understand what the point of all my work has been.
I began applying to jobs in New York in January. Applying is not a cinch, you have to find a suitable template for your resume, write a cover letter, tweak your portfolio to best display the assets that are most relevant to the job description, redo your LinkedIn, clean up the rest of your social media accounts, do TikToks. ::Sigh:: It takes hours. And after you’ve put that all together for one job, you spend days awaiting an email. The email that curtly informs you that your application was reviewed but not selected is a soft blow. The conniving emails are those that feign niceties and keep you dangling on with a silly hope for weeks on end. “You have an impressive resume” and they’d like to “schedule a phone interview”. You spend time researching the company, their competition, the job description, the staff, and you ace the test. Another email pops into your inbox congratulating you — you’re on to the next step! Giddy with anticipation, you complete the third round of interviews and then… the emails stop coming. Weeks later a sympathetic message will arrive to say “We thank you for your hard work, but the field was very competitive, and we regret to inform you we will not move forward with your application”.
I spent serious money traveling to New York for interviews. Ever checked the price of a hotel there? I interviewed for the New York Post, for Democracy Now, for the marketing agency that ran Obama’s 2008 election campaign. One night I even ran around New York tasting cocktails to concoct social media strategies for this restaurateur who seemed to be on the verge of hiring me. I came back to Miami and weeks later heard back. Someone, somewhere, somehow was better for the job.
With this constant influx of rejection, the next step is to question my worthiness. Why didn’t they hire me? Am I not smart enough? What ideas did the other contenders have? An art director I worked with at my former job told me, “everyone in New York is a 10”. They come from every hole in the wall imaginable all around the world and are just as hungry as the next one. But knowing the myth of New Yorkers didn’t scare me, because I thought I was just as diligent, ambitious, and capable as the rest.
I worked at arguably the best social media agency in Miami. My clients were influential entrepreneurs. I told millionaires what to do and they took my advice. I would get ingratiating emails from them telling me how wonderful it was to work with me. I was more creative, more rigorous, more perceptive than the other team members. (In this tedious routine of a system, you realize most people are drones memorizing steps, they don’t have unique thoughts.) The last thing my bosses told me when I resigned was that I was the best employee they’ve ever had. Sure, it was a small startup, at most they’ve probably had 20 employees but still, *the best*. Silly me, I was just a big fish in a small pond.
Rejection hurts and begs the question, how many no’s does it take to make you give up? I can at last begin to understand the bitter frustration a former beau felt with every letter of polite “thank you, but no” from publishing agents. He’d written four books, maybe more by now, and he was a talented writer. I never understood what the agents were looking for, why they snubbed his books. He didn’t know either.
I don’t know what New York wants. People tell me maybe it isn’t God’s will. Although, if I really weigh in on this, it’s marketing work that is closing its doors to me — the very thing I wanted to get away from in Miami. Maybe it means I should revisit a career in publishing?
If I think about it, I have been attempting to solidify a status so that society will deem me adequate, that I think if I have the job, now I am deserving of respect because I am making money and everyone can shut up now. Which is totally justified, I think, because a person who toils is one who is trying. Trying to be better, trying to grow, trying to survive. Well all this bounteous freedom that was given to me on behalf of the pandemic nobody asked for and my unemployment, could not have been more timely. Fine, you won’t hire me? I’m still going to work, I still matter. I still matter even if I don’t work, but I prefer to work — even if it doesn’t turn over a profit. I am in a phase of experimentation with fonts and colors and softwares and photos, exploring my curiosity, learning and listening. The nights and weekends I had off from my full-time were not enough to let me wander, and though this type of home-bound living is not fulfilling, free time has plenty of “aha” moments of inspiration. Okay, I’ll play the grasshopper now whilst perusing my email and rolling my eyes at society’s rejection. Maybe I needed to learn something.
In the end, I want to live in New York, and I will make it happen. In the meantime, all I can do is invest in my education.