Where Logic Meets Love

Rejection and the Frustration of Lacking Control

Friday, May 24, 2013

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Rejection and the Frustration of Lacking Control | Faith Permeating Life

More doors have closed for me in the past few weeks.

I was supposed to do some consulting work for the university where we live, but the provost turned the reins over to another administrator, who initially seemed enthusiastic about getting my help and then proceeded to ignore all communication from me. So I've more or less given up on that now.

I didn't land a freelance job I applied for, editing evaluation reports -- which still kind of confuses me, since how many other people can there be locally with as much experience as I have in editing and evaluation? I interviewed well enough to get sent the editing test, which I passed, and then a week later I got a short e-mail that another candidate had been selected, and no response to my reply asking for feedback.

I've put in a lot of work on my great-grandfather's manuscript and sent it to several friends, who graciously took the time to read it and provide feedback. They all said they liked it a lot. I then sent a question to one of my past freelance clients, who's a published author, asking if she had any suggestions on where or how to pitch it, with the understanding that it was going to be a niche piece that wouldn't have broad commercial appeal. She asked for the first chapter and then said it wasn't good enough to get published and she couldn't help me. Even though it was clear from her message that she didn't really understand what I was asking, it was still a punch in the gut and made me doubt whether it was even worth taking the time to pitch to agents.

The campus office that had been stringing me along since I applied back in January, and which finally interviewed me at the beginning of May, told me this week that I didn't get the job. The director was very kind about it, and said that if their existing team had a different balance of skills I would have been a great fit, she was disappointed she couldn't hire me, and that I was a fantastic fit for the university and she'd be happy to recommend me to any other job I applied for on campus. It was basically the best possible rejection you could hope for -- but it was still a rejection, and it sucked.

I had been waiting to hear about another job being posted at a nearby university, since the office director had specifically sought me out at a conference I attended last month and urged me to apply when the position was posted. After I got the rejection call for the job I'd been hoping for, I saw that this director had finally e-mailed me that the posting was up. I looked it over and found it was longer hours than I'd expected and paid nearly half what it should. (This is not my wishful thinking -- a similar post on the same site but in a different office, for a job that unfortunately was just filled, listed the salary I expected.) I wrote her back and thanked her for the information, but said it was too far below my salary range to consider applying.

So there go those doors. Slam slam slam.

Objectively, I know that I'm incredibly, incredibly fortunate. Mike is on a 10-month contract but gets paid over 12 months and is staying on in the same res hall next year, so technically neither of us is working right now and yet we have free housing and an income coming in, which just blows my mind.

Everyone in my life is supportive -- if anyone is judging me for quitting my job and not having a new one by now, they're not saying it to my face. I talked to a friend on the day I got the latest rejection call, and she assured me that I was doing all the right things and that she even admired me for having high standards about which jobs I applied to. She reminded me that if I had no standards and just wanted any job, I could get one.

So when it comes down to it, the only thing left to be upset over is my lack of control. I can't make relevant, local job postings appear any faster. I can't guarantee when I'll be bringing in a paycheck again. And I hate that uncertainty, having to trust God that things will work themselves out the way they're supposed to.

That's all for this week. Just wanted to give you guys an update on my life. Words of encouragement, especially about how you deal with uncertainty and a lack of control, are more than welcome.


  1. Rejection and uncertainty both hurt. A lot. I don't know if anyone is really good at uncertainty, but it always helps me to just focus on now. Most of the trouble with uncertainty lies in the future. Is now OK? Can I do something now? Then that's all there is.

    Hope new opportunities open up for you soon!

  2. Ugh, sorry to hear about this string of no's, Jessica. Even though intellectually you might know that you've been doing everything right, it's still difficult not to let it affect your confidence. It's usually hard for me to reconcile disparity between emotional and intellectual knowledge, especially in situations where I'm not in control, so I always end up doing a lot of journaling to process. Because the worst part is the waiting for it to pass/settle.

    And maybe this isn't necessarily the healthiest way to cope, but while waiting and sitting in uncertainty and trying to trust (and wait for my emotions to catch up), I go ahead and do something that I enjoy and where I also feel in control, whether that's cleaning my apartment or doing my finances or having a really good discussion about an article or book I read.

    1. The intellectual-emotional gap is something I talk with my counselor about all the time. I know objectively I'm doing the right things... but it doesn't make the emotions suck less.

      I like the tip about doing something I have control over. Going for a run helps because I feel like I've accomplished something, and this morning I knocked out two blog posts for the next week, so it feels good to be on top of that.

      Thanks for your thoughts and encouragement!

  3. I'm so sorry to hear what you're going through, Jessica. Like one of the other commenters said, knowing you are doing all you can for the future and even being thankful for your blessings doesn't necessarily make the grief of the closed doors less.

    As you may know, I recently made the decision to defer graduate school after all, which felt like a big door closing, at least temporarily. Your mileage may vary, of course, but something that's been helping me through this time is reading Hebrews 11. Remembering the stories of all the people who dared to believe and hope despite the fact that they never lived to see that hope come to fruition except in comparatively small ways. Helps me think about the big picture and my potential to grow in faith during times of personal darkness.

    I will say a prayer for you as you wrestle with this.

    1. I keep meaning to e-mail you regarding your recent posts. I didn't realize you'd ultimately made the decision to defer graduate school. I imagine that was an incredibly difficult decision for you. :(

      Thanks for your suggestion about Hebrews 11. I will have to read through that. I will say a prayer for you as well.

  4. I'm getting a lot of job rejections at the moment too and it is very discouraging, so I can understand your frustration.

    I guess the main thing that keeps me going during the uncertainty is looking back over past times that were unpleasant or different to what I'd hoped and realising how God worked through those times and led me to an outcome ever better than what I'd hoped. Another thing I used to do (but forgot about until now) was I kept a 'thankfulness' journal where I wrote a couple of good things each day that I could thank God for. That helped me to see that just because things weren't going well in one particular area it didn't mean everything sucked! I think now might be a good time for me to start that again...

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