In a sales / account management position, rejection is something I face everyday, both internal and external. It’s convenient to brush rejection off as “only business” or some other platitude designed to soften the blow. But, repeating a businesspeak mantra like that ad nauseum doesn’t necessarily reassure me or make the feeling less real (even if self-inflicted).
Somewhat recently, I had an experience where I felt a deep, deep sense of rejection. It was such an intense feeling that I really began questioning my value not only as a professional but generally as a citizen of the web. Am I adding value? Is something wrong or off with me? Should I just take all my computer shit out back, toss it in a hole, and work at a bourbon distillery? Spoiler: I didn’t do that and I likely never will 😛
Looking back on it, I was being incredibly hyperbolic. Borderline ridiculous, actually. But, in the moment I was devastated. I consider myself someone who rebounds quickly from hyper-emotion, but it took me a week to really shake the feeling and remind myself that sometimes shit. just. happens.
My wife has always said “things happen for a reason.” Though I believe she means that in a very deterministic way, I still like the aphorism even if I interpret it differently. There is a reason that things happen: someone(s) made a choice or series of choices that led to that moment or event. In my case, I had no visibility into the choices that were made leading to that moment, but I could guess at least a few of them.
However, trying to work the problem backwards was causing even more frustration. The truth is, I’ll never know the series of events that transpired; at best I’ll be able to guess and at worst it’s just a blackbox. Accepting that fact has been part of the “road to recovery”, so to speak.
On the bright side of this experience, I’ve had my value reassured a number of times both by members of my work team, my family, and myself. Self-criticism is typically not productive and hyperbolic reactions have never, in the history of time, solved anything. There’s a huge difference between constructively criticizing oneself and overreacting to an outcome simply because there was some level of deeper emotional interest.
In the end, it’s pretty fucked up to say, but it likely really is “only business.”