Friday, September 14, 2012

The Exhaustion of Rejection

There is a certain exhaustion in rejection, in not being good enough.

This morning, while sipping my coffee on the ride to the city, there was an NPR report about the jobless, those who have simply stopped looking.  There was the older woman who went back to school to get retrained and still was unemployed, the older man who used to write programs but now couldn't get hired because he didn't have experience in "the cloud." The stories went on and on.

I sipped and thought about these, all white people, and what would be my chance, a middle aged black woman with business degrees and background.  Corporate America and I parted ways in 2003.  I have been back in (helped open an upscale retail furniture store) and have even taught those who probably told the older man he was either (a) overqualified for the entry level job or (b) inexperienced (and presumably, too old) for the new systems.  I thought my writing and my engaging teaching style (highly rated on all my reviews) and my consulting experience would help me stay at least part-time.

No, not good enough.  Rejection after rejection.

Spent money for those "official transcripts" only to be told the department chair wanted other qualifications (that usually means PhD).  Why couldn't they tell me that at first when they glowingly held out the carrot for classes that would start in October (I made it past the "thank you for your application" automatic response and actually had communications from a real person for a real university for a real teaching experience).

There is a certain exhaustion in dumbing down your credentials only to be told they are not "dumb enough" or swallowing your pride to say you'd be "happy to accept $10/hour" when the last time you made that, President Clinton was in office and the economy was booming, and even then, you made more than that WITH benefits.  What gives?

I am wondering who is controlling all this?

The Gen X mean boys who have a trust fund? Or the Baby Boomer mean woman who was an adjunct professor while working on her PhD and once she got it, promptly got rid of all the other non-PhD adjuncts, starting with those who were black.

What is it?

I try not to think my race has anything to do with it, except when it shows up.  I try not to think my age has anything to do with it, again, except when it shows up.  Not sure what it is that a local position I applied for and had the credentials for and had already volunteered for, didn't hire me but did hire someone WHO ISN'T EVEN A US CITIZEN to work with the children.

What gives?

There is certainly exhaustion in the rejection.

At times I think, why should I stress it.  My husband has been providing for us and with the recent sale of our house, should have some of the pressure taken off.  I am deeply involved with our girls, I serve on the Board of Directors of their performance choir and I co-lead one of their girl scout troops.  I am busy, I am writing, I am taking classes.

Why should I worry about it?

Perhaps it is those times when my husband says we don't have enough money or starts moaning about our student loans.  Let's face it, I will be dead before I am able to pay them off and my children, legally, will not be required to pay them off, so I have bigger things to worry about than that.

The rejection can cut stripes into your soul sometimes.

I even further tweaked my credentials to go back to a profession I had before I even finished my degrees - as an administrative assistant.  Even there, the doors were shut and bolted tight.

My skills are sharp, I keep them that way.  I network and keep busy, I volunteer and even had supervisory experience for a summer program at less than 15% of my former salary.  I gave it time and time and even my money are resources, only to have it go to one of the founding family's members who recently lost a job, all my hard work out-the-door and my husband looking at me like there is something wrong with me.

That is what rejection does, makes you think there is something you did wrong.

I didn't tank the economy.  I didn't cause all the marketing (brand and product) management jobs to start laying off and downsizing starting back in 2001.  I didn't make the major brands in St. Louis leave and then the ones left cutting salaries to less-than-livable wages while demanding (and requiring!) 50-60 hours a week.  These things are not even humanly possible.

Who is doing all this?  Is it the rich old white men CEOs (let's face it, except for the Yahoo CEO and few other women, most of them are rich, old, white men who are after profit over people). Is it because of the Presidential election and they are destroying the economy because the president is black and they hope they cause enough pain that people will vote for the "great white hope?"

I keep trying to put my finger on it.

There will be another day, another blow to the self-esteem.

And there will be another redemption, another moment when I know that my sacrifice these past 9 years have been worth all the pain and rejection.  My daughters read way above grade level (my 5th grader reads better than 99% of the other 5th graders and has consistently scored 2-3 grade levels ahead since kindergarten).  My 3rd grader loves math and is a genius at it.  She is healthy and not on a feeding tube that would have been the normal course for her eosinophilia.  She still battles five illnesses and yet, has a joie d'vie that makes me smile on my worse day.  My youngest son is in college - debt free! All the work I did and helped him do last year landed him four scholarships.  He has a chance to just focus on his craft.  These are my redemption moments in the face of yet another rejection letter.

I am not sure where my tomorrow will take me.   I just know that it will come and I will handle it.

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