When a person is too heavily attached to achievement, disaster lurks around the corner. This can look like a dependency—on praise, check-marked to-do lists, annual review raises, zero edits on that copy.
Yes, disaster. When a contagious virus led to the hospitalization of thousands of people which led to deaths which led to restrictions which led to shutdowns, it ultimately led to me—attached to my achievement in the workplace—without a job.
Things have been, well, tough.
But, as the title of this post suggests, I’m doing better now.
For the past seven months, long before getting laid off, I’d been applying for a position at an esteemed local company. I really, really wanted to work for them.
They are incredible and work with big-ticket clients. They capture the essence of the Colorado lifestyle. They run the public relations and media campaigns for some of the top brands in the world, and help to cultivate true change in sustainability and stewardship.
I was so excited about this company, and things were looking promising. In addition to three interviews, I was essentially told that I was their leading candidate. I was extremely qualified and had direct experience. It was taking a while, though. I wouldn’t hear back for weeks, and my follow-up emails were met with statements like, “we should know by the end of next Monday,” with numerous extensions. It was annoying after three months, but I still really, really wanted to be a part of their organization. So, I waited.
Then COVID hit. Then our area was considered a hot-spot zone and businesses closed immediately. Then I was laid off. My check-ins to the company, though more urgent, were still not leading to answers. I heard about a hiring freeze, and that I was still at the top of their short list.
After nearly seven months of pining after this job, I heard the final word: they hired a former employee for the position, after laying them off due to COVID.
I did not get the job.
Funny enough, parting ways with my PR position of three years—my very first, real, grown-up job—didn’t hurt nearly as badly as this short and sweet rejection email. I cried. It was more of a loud and raging sob. I asked myself over and over, “why aren’t I ever good enough?” I laid in bed and wailed. My dog looked concerned (and scared), and it took Chad about 10 minutes to realize that the sound was me, and not some kind of air conditioning malfunction.
You get it. Rejection stings. This one, in particular, maybe due to a cultivation of frustration and insecurity and stress, hurt a lot.
As soon as I stopped crying, it was like a switch was flipped.
Suddenly, I was okay. Calm, collected, cool. I apologized to Wally, thanked Chad for the cuddles and support, and quietly got to work on a plan.
I’d like to say that revenge and the whole “I’ll show them” attitude doesn’t appeal to me, but I do tend to root for the underdog. And at that low moment, it felt a lot like me.
That same day, I was able to put together a business plan, create a media kit, and design a website. I made a cold-call email template and researched local businesses and industries that I could work with. Sunshine Creatives, LLC was born, out of what felt like the grimmest ashes of despair, and I was suddenly free.
Now, over a month later, I’m doing great, especially in terms of my business (though life is pretty amazing in other aspects, too). I officially have four clients. (Insert grand applause!!) I’m in the chatting stages with three more. I’m doing a bit of everything: blog writing, newsletter creation, and social media management.
I’m excited! Though it’s been a little scary diving into this experience, it’s been worth the risk: I’m working for myself, doing what I love, and finding success in my hard work. I’m so glad to say that those feelings of rejection have transformed and evolved into confidence and comfort.
You, like me, are so much more than your job. It could quite possibly be the least important thing about you, and should not be the driving point of your identity. I know that can be so, so hard to remember (thanks, capitalism!!), but it’s true.
You are worth more than a job title. You are worth more than the money you make. Who you are will always be worth more than what you do.
Remember that, even when it feels impossible. And also when you’re doing great, too.
And, in those deep and dark moments, try to see the light at the end: it’s waiting for you. I promise.