Everyone spirals. Embrace the suck.

I have had versions of this post in my drafts folder for over a week. I deleted it. I reposted it. Deleted it again.

Why? Why?

I care what you think, even though I pretend that I don’t. I am afraid that what I write here will be held against me later. Our profession preaches that “people are watching you” and “be careful what you say on social media.” We say this while also talking out the other side of our mouths, preaching about authenticity.

I got on this morning to post. I deleted it again. And then the universe sent me messages.

Mentally strong people don’t give away their power. Take responsibility for how you think, feel, and behave. #mentallystrong #mentalhealth

And then this from Momastery:

I’ve been writing directly from my heart less often than I used to. I think I just started putting weird pressure on myself. This place has gotten so big, and over time I convinced myself that everything I wrote needed to be shiny and shareable and big and amazing (emphasis mine). So I started writing essays instead of love letters. Meh. That’s not what we need all the time is it? We just need to show up for each other. Tired, full, broken, sparkling heart to tired, full, broken, sparkling heart.  (emphasis mine.) I am not here to prove myself, I’m here to serve you. Biggest difference in the world. Proving ourselves is full of angst and fear and striving and exhaustion. Showing up is just: Hi. Here I am. There you are. This is what I have to offer you today. Nothing more, nothing less (emphasis mine). I want to work from a place of service, not ego. Shift, shift, shift. Better. Truer.

Showing up > Showing Off.

So anyway, here I am. I’m going to write directly to you once a week. Nothing fancy. Just: Here I Am. Also sometimes I won’t. No problem.

This is what I want to say today. It will make some people upset. I’m sorry about that, but I’ve thought about it for a week and I still think it’s important to say. If it helpful for you, keep it. If not—please reject it and hold onto whatever understanding brings you comfort.

So I am taking a deep breath and hitting publish. I am using my power and sharing it, instead of giving it away. This post is not shiny. “Look, passion!” It’s broken. It’s real.

What I have to offer is this: Applying for jobs and being rejected is hard. It’s okay if you spiral. I was rejected from yet another position in my “profession.” I was humiliated. I was embarrassed. I cried. (In private of course.) Then I cried at home. I screamed. I threw some stuff (that was really fun, actually). I went deep into the shame spiral. Deep. Because despite what we do for students, we do not do for ourselves…I blamed myself and felt shame for being rejected. This is what it looked like:

I suck. This sucks. You all suck. This profession sucks. I played by the rules. I did everything right. It still doesn’t matter. Why did I get this PhD? What a waste. I am trapped here. I hate this.

I tortured myself for spiraling, which of course only leads to more spiraling. Why do I go to the darkness first? Why aren’t I a person who brushes off disappointment and instantly rallies?

Psst, Monica. Psst. Hey! You are a person who brushes off disappointment and you do rally. It’s only been 8 days since you were crushed. That’s really not that long. I’d say eight days is a rally.

Talking to the important people in my life- my husband, my mentor, my therapist, and God- brought me back to reality and pulled me out of the shame spiral. Doing those things helped me remember this: Everyone spirals. Read that again. Everyone spirals.

Resilience is a continuum. Resilient people rally because they are smart enough to know when they need help and they reach out for it.

Resilient people rally because they “embrace the suck” rather than denying it. In short, “Embracing the suck” means acknowledging the situation that you are in to reduce it’s length and it’s power over you. For more on “embracing the suck,” read here and listen here.

I finally finished this post because I reminded myself that lying about the suck dishonors my experience and my victory over the struggle. I pulled myself out of the depressive shame spiral. I willed myself out of it. And I had help. That victory will give me strength to face the next one. Because there will be a next one. There always is.

We learn more from heartbreak and mistakes than we do from success. So let’s be more committed to sharing them. This profession will break your heart at some point. How could it not? We’re humans in a human enterprise. Humans make mistakes. We hurt each other. We hurt ourselves. Life isn’t fair. Other people get picked. You get rejected from grad school. Your friend throws you under the bus. It happens. Let’s be honest about it and let others share their own sucks. It’s a disservice to them and our profession to not let them.

Life isn’t fair. The best we can hope for is justice.

Justice, wine, and chocolate.

Applying means SOMEthing, but not everything

I have done a lot of job searching in my life. Some of them went well. Most didn’t, truth be told. I have applied for way more jobs than I have ever been offered jobs. In my years of searching and now coaching others, I have learned some important lessons. Applying for a job- new, lateral, promotion- means something. It means something, but it doesn’t mean everything.

Job searching is hard. It means something to put yourself into the market.

Something

  • Applying/looking for a job is a full-time job. It’s work. Search, prepare unique resumes and cover letters for each one, wait, get your hopes up, repeat.
  • Do the work and put your best foot forward. That’s all you can do.
  • We tend to “what if” on the negative side of things. What if I don’t get this job? What if I do get it and my boss is awful?  What if I get it and I am awful? What if I get it and I hate it?
  • This “what iffing” is totally normal. It is human instinct to fear the unknown. But, don’t live there. Trust me, I’ve been there. It’s not pretty.
  • It takes courage to put yourself out there, let no one tell you any different.
  • Applying for jobs is an act of hope. You hope to get picked. You hope that they see in you all the things you see in yourself and they give you a shot.
  • Hope is a good thing.
  • Applying for jobs is draining. See bullet #1
  • Applying for jobs and not getting chosen is really draining.

Job searching is hard. It means something to put yourself into the market. But, it doesn’t mean everything.

Not everything

  • To even get to the phone interview stage is huge. It means you have made it past multiple screens (robots, more robots, and maybe a person or two) already. Congratulations! That is a big deal. We need to tell ourselves and each other that more often, I think.
  • You did the work. You put forward your best application. That is all you can do.
  • Your identity, your worth, your sense of self, your gift to the world has nothing to do with whether or not you got the job.
  • Your identity, your worth, your sense of self, your gift to the world has everything to do with who you are, how you treat people, and the legacy you leave.
  • Not getting a job isn’t personal. While it feels personal to you, it’s not about you personally. Ironic that I am saying this as I am a person who takes almost everything personally. But, I have fallen down this rabbit hole and beaten myself up over not getting picked. It’s like gym class and prom all over again. It sucks, sure. Let yourself be sad. Wallow for a bit with your yoga pants and NetFlix. And then move on.
  • There are hundreds of factors beyond your control- ageism, sexism, racism, nepotism, quotas, internal candidates, external candidates, “fit” (shudder)- that influence who gets picked.
  • The person doing the hiring has an agenda that may or may not ever be revealed to you. It may not even be their agenda. The agenda isn’t about you.
  • The most qualified, most educated, most skilled person doesn’t always get the job. The most qualified, most educated, most skilled person as deemed by the person(s) setting the agenda get the job.
  • Read the third bullet again.

You decide your worth. You decide your joy. Don’t let getting a job, or not getting a job, do the deciding for you.


If you need help with your resume, cover letter, or interview coaching, contact me: sheldrakeconsulting@gmail.com. It’d be my honor to help you put your best foot forward.