Perseverance in the face of rejection?
December 26, 2018 10:03 AM   Subscribe

The daisies are not coming up, y'all. I've had a tough season of job, romantic, and friendship rejection. I would like tips for regaining my confidence in the face of rejection.

A few months ago, a long time friend decided she didn't want my friendship anymore, and she said and did some hurtful things in the process. I'm still dwelling on that. I've spent the Fall 2018 semester working 60 hour weeks in order to build out my resume for a career turn around - returning to libraries/librarianship after getting my MLIS in 2012 and never working in a library since then. I'm applying to librarian jobs; the job rejections are piling up. I've already compromised with myself and moved away from applying to academic librarian jobs in major cities and started including more rural locations, which is something that I did not want to do but I see it as necessary. And last night in the true spirit of Christmas, my latest romantic partner let me know that he didn't want to see me anymore.

You guys, I'm really, really tired and this just sucks. I don't want to pack it in and settle for what I have now, but my confidence is totally shot and quitting/settling just sounds so easy and nice. I'm staring at this blank cover letter trying to come up with something to say about how great I would be at this job but I don't feel it anymore. How can I regain my confidence? How can I keep putting myself out there when I know that I'm going to face rejection again before I get the job that I want, find more genuine friends, and find a compatible life partner?
posted by pumpkinlatte to Human Relations (7 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Volunteer. It probably won’t land a job in your lap and it probably won’t connect you to a life partner. But it will very likely provide a sense of purpose and opportunities for gratitude, as well as meaningful connection to people around you.
posted by bilabial at 10:23 AM on December 26, 2018 [5 favorites]

I will let others reply to the question about romantic rejection, but came here to say:

1. I also got my MLIS in Library Science (archives/preservation specifically) about five years ago and have also struggled, since then, to get a job in a field (and have not worked in a library during that time, either, unless you count two volunteering stints I had). So I wanted to share that so that you can feel a bit less alone.

2. Dealing with #1 above has been complicated. I’ve had issues with my confidence, too, knowing that I’m less competitive because I am still working in a different field. Some things I’ve pursued that have been working for me: looking into other career fields where my library skills would be helpful, but are not necessarily library jobs (these other careers do exist!); reminding myself that my career/job does not define who I am as a person and that my identity is not dependent on the type of job field I occupy; developing and working on independent archival projects; using (which is free through my local library system) for training in certain IT and business skills that not only help me establish more confidence, but also a more well-rounded resume if not a more well-rounded sense of self.

3. Don’t give up on putting yourself out there. I recommend googling for stories from successful people about all of the times they failed before they succeeded. You will find that almost every single one of them failed HARD, often many times, before succeeding or breaking into their career field. It’s resilience - the ability and willingness and scrappiness - to jump back up from those failures and keep fighting that lead people to eventual success. I believe this so strongly that I even did the cheesy thing of getting a bracelet that has the word “resilience” stamped on it, so that every time I look at it I’m reminded. Resilience is all about where your mind is. It’s okay to have to constantly remind yourself. Eventually, it becomes a part of you - second nature - and you won’t have to keep saying it to yourself. But until then, if you can put sticky notes and mobile calendar alerts everywhere to remind yourself to be resilient, you may find that it helps you stay afloat while you figure everything else out.

4. On preview, what bilabial said about volunteering. I admit that I squandered some of the opportunities that arose from the two volunteer archival positions I held, but I also learned a lot about what I did and did not want to do as a librarian/archivist. In addition to seeing that some of the things I had romanticized were not what I had imagined. So whether or not it leads to a job, or to networking, or even to a sense of satisfaction, it will at least function as a tool to help you decide or get closer to deciding what it is you want and who it is you want to be.
posted by nightrecordings at 10:28 AM on December 26, 2018 [8 favorites]

Its ok to take a break for a few days. Your relationship ended yesterday? That's hard! You don't have to force yourself to write a cover letter today - unless the application closes tomorrow, I suppose. Put it on your calendar to do in a week and give yourself a little room to rest and recover.

You can't control what others think of you, and the negative reactions you've gotten from people are probably standing out in your mind more so than the positive reactions. Focus on what you can control - good self-esteem can also come from a feeling of mastery or contribution. The suggestion to volunteer is a good one - it'll help get you in a more values-oriented, society-oriented state of mind. Shorter term, do you have any hobbies, skills, personal projects you can throw yourself into? Working really hard on something you enjoy, getting better at it in a concrete way, will help distract you from the pain of your romantic rejection. It might also break up the cruft in your brain a bit so that when you're returning to job applications, you feel more creative.

Exercise (if possible) will also help a lot. Make it high intensity (I like to do short, intense intervals, like a 30 second dash with a 5 minute walk). Intense exercise helps regulate cortisol which, if you're dealing with the stress of rejection from a few different angles, is probably building up.

Take care of yourself! What you're describing is a lot to deal with at once, but none of these rejections separately would mean you should give up, and neither do they together.
posted by ProtoStar at 10:51 AM on December 26, 2018 [1 favorite]

Maybe right now it would be helpful to allow yourself to grieve the losses of your relationship and difficulties with the job search. In both cases, you're not in control of another person's choice which makes it even harder to cope with. Confidence, to be sure, is a good thing when you put yourself out in the world. In my experience though, effort combined with timing, luck, etc. determines when things actually happen.

Be kind to yourself right now. This too will pass. Best to you.
posted by strelitzia at 10:58 AM on December 26, 2018 [1 favorite]

I so feel you. A lot of what you said about professional rejection really hits home. Here are a few things I have done to help keep my spirits up.

Take a break. Give yourself permission to not look at job boards or apply for things for a couple of weeks. It really helps.

Figure out how you can network. Networking is the best way to get a job. I would especially look at conferences related to your field and find a way to go. You'll meet people there who you can start to build a relationship with that will eventually lead to a job. Also look at local groups you can connect with.

Consider working with a career coach. I have and it really helped me figure out a strategy, improve my resume, and make the most of my Linkedin profile.

Take a class. Just doing something that is for fun and for you will help.

I've been using a meaningfulness journal to help me track of at least one thing a day that has been good for me. I have found it very beneficial.

Exercise - take a walk, go for a hike, ride a bike. You'll get some endorphins which will be nice.

nthing the volunteering suggestion. Find a cause you care about and devote some time to it. Making an impact in your community will positively impact your mood and self-esteem.

And hang in there!
posted by brookeb at 11:01 AM on December 26, 2018 [1 favorite]

It sucks to be rejected but chances are these weren’t right for you anyway.

Think of it as a process of refinement rather than rejection, and an opening of new opportunities instead.
posted by Middlemarch at 3:45 PM on December 26, 2018 [1 favorite]

I find that spells of rejection (professional and/or personal) seem to come right before I discover something important about myself. If jobs don't want me, it might be because I haven't found the niche where I fit and honed the skills related to that niche and gotten passionate about learning everything I can about that area. If a partner rejects me, I haven't yet figured out exactly who I am looking for, because it means I've been seeking out people who aren't quite right for me.

It has helped to reorient my understanding of what went wrong in relationships in terms of "how did we not quite fit? What unmet needs did I have in this relationship that I hope to meet in future relationships?" Writing 500+ words about exactly what I want in a partner has helped with this. I think writing a mission statement for my career could help too, and seeking out professional development (bigger projects like taking courses, and smaller, daily commitments like reading articles in the area I'm passionate about) to be the best version of myself. Journaling is great for self-exploration; some people like bullet journaling as a way to track progress and stay focused. Ymmv.

Whether or not these lead to professional or romantic success, they will also inevitably make you feel better about yourself and rely less on external measures.
posted by unstrungharp at 5:22 AM on December 29, 2018 [1 favorite]

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