Rejection: How to Cope

At some point in your job search you will be rejected. I know. I’ve been rejected by three jobs in five days. Granted, most of those were nice rejections. This may seem like an oxymoron, but it isn’t. The people I spoke with thanked me for being thoughtful and well researched, which I appreciated. University of California at Irvine, one of the MFA programs I applied to, even sent me a handwritten note saying please keep writing. I’m keeping that particular rejection.

As I said before in my blog post, “Unemployment Tips,” the proper procedure for dealing with rejection is sitting down on the couch with a humongous bowl of ice cream. But if this doesn’t work for you, maybe you forgot to get groceries this week; I’d like to share a few other coping mechanisms I’ve tried.

1). Exercise. Exercise gets me out of my head. If I’m busy thinking about how much my arms hurt from doing push-ups, I’m not thinking about my job search troubles. Even if it doesn’t feel good while you’re doing it, it will feel good after. Endorphin anyone?

2). Ask your family and friends for support. Even if you’re embarrassed to be struggling, it’s worth it. Relatives, or at least my relatives, are soft and huggable. If you don’t have relatives, try your friends. If your friends aren’t around, I recommend you get a cat. There’s nothing softer than a cat’s belly fur—take it from me.

3). Do something that makes you feel in control of your life. Some people like to bake. Some people like to clean. I like to write. When I write I get to choose the character development, sentence structure, word choice, and so on. I can shape a piece until it’s exactly how I want it, or at least until it’s close to how I want it. Writers, like me, are notorious perfectionists.

4). Recognize the things you’re doing well. I know that can be hard when you’re not succeeding at what you want to succeed at. But it is possible. I, for one, can throw a mean side blade kick. A side blade kick is a type of karate kick where you use the blade of the foot. I’ve knocked people down with that kick. But then again, it’s not getting knocked down that matters; it’s getting back up.

 

Silly Banquet

Yesterday, I did three things. I lazed around outside with my friends. I got my first sunburn of the year. And I attended the farewell Honors Program banquet for my alma mater, the University of Puget Sound. The theme of the banquet was “Scientists Being Silly.” The guest speaker, Professor Kristin Johnson, opened with a picture of Einstein sticking his tongue out and ended with a YouTube video of scientists in white lab coats dancing to the tune of “gonna rock this club like its dynamite.” Personally, I love silly things. I’m a fan of Monty Python. I like making bad puns. And I own a pair of slippers with bears on them so every time I put them on I have bear/bare feet. See what I told you about the bad puns? In honor of that speech, I’d like to list all the silly things we did that evening and say why they were awesome.

  1. Played with fortune telling fish. The people who set up the event were nice enough to give us each a fortune telling fish. You put the little plastic fish in the palm of your hand and depending on how it moved it would tell your fortune. E.g. a moving head equaled jealousy and a moving tail equaled indifference. I got “curls up entirely,” which meant passionate. I’m just glad I didn’t get motionless or “dead one.” Seeing as I’m only twenty-two, that would have been a really crappy fortune.

 

  1. Gave out silly gifts. The event had a variety of door-prizes including the cutest little green stuffed animal blob—I think it may have been a molecule. We also got mugs with the “University of Puget Sound Honors Program” written on them. They had electric candles at the bottom covered in glittery party plastic. I think I may have accidentally drunk some of the glitter this morning with my tea. Whoops.

 

  1. Told a silly story. Silly stories are the best. When I was really little, my dad used to tell me and my sister “Harry Potter stories,” spinoffs of the Harry Potter series only with way more bathroom humor. I enjoyed those stories and I enjoyed the one at the Honors Program banquet. The Honors Program banquet story takes the post college aspirations of the senior class and weaves them together into a single narrative—in this case the search for the spiritual meaning of the kidney. One of the best lines that night was, “To know for sure we’d need more kidneys to continue our research. I’m not at liberty to say where we’re getting them.”

 

So that was the silly stuff we did at the banquet. I enjoyed every moment of it. So get out there and be silly. Stick your tongue out. Drink glitter in your tea. Make a bad pun.

Unemployment Tips

I’ve been unemployed since I graduated in December. A lot of employers want experience and I don’t have that yet. Some of us are lucky enough to find jobs before we graduate, others of us have to wait a bit longer. And waiting can be hard. You start lying awake at night wondering if anyone will want to hire you. When that happens, you just have to take a few deep breaths and tell yourself that everything will be fine. Lie if necessary. Because unemployment is so difficult, I’d like to share a few tips on how to deal with it.

  • Apply for jobs regularly. This one is fairly obvious, but I’m just going to say it anyway. Even if the company you’re applying to doesn’t respond, you’ll feel better for having done something. Indeed.com, Monster.com, simplyhired.com, and craigslist, are all good sites to check when you’re looking for employment.
  • Don’t turn into a mole person. By that I mean, leave the house. If nothing else, you need the fresh air. Take it from me.
  • Find an activity or activities you like and do it. I started assistant teaching at a karate school down the road. One of my best moments as a teacher was when a yoga ball we were throwing went passed me and knocked over a cup of water. I started to say sh**, but then paused and said talking mushrooms instead. The older sister does this in Spy Kids One to avoid swearing in front of her brother.
  • Do something to keep up your skills. I majored in English with an emphasis in creative writing. To keep myself fresh, I started writing a couple of short stories. One of which is about a nerd romance or, as I like to call it, a nerdmance.
  • When all else fails eat ice cream. You’re going to get rejected a lot during this process and when you do it will feel like sh**…talking mushrooms. So you should eat ice cream to reward yourself for trying.

 

Good luck and don’t forget the chocolate sauce.

Red Flags and Teddy Bears

I have two  interviewing tips for you: Do your research and know what your nervous habits are. Today, I had a job interview at the Northwest Parkinson’s Foundation. Doing my research really helped me put my best foot forward. As for nervous habits…let’s just say I re-learned something about myself.

There are two good reasons for doing your research. Firstly, if you come prepared and knowledgeable about the company it shows employers that you are willing to make the effort and are serious about the job. Secondly, if you do your research, you will probably find any red flags about the company you are interviewing with. Check sites like yelp or glassdoor.com to see what current and former employees of the company have written. When I was checking out a prospective company, I found a review that said this:

“If you leave your desk for anything other than going to the bathroom, you have to send an email to everyone in the office saying how long you’ll be gone and where you’re going. Such as – ‘personal call – 3 minutes,’ ‘coffee run – 5 minutes,’ ‘stretching my legs – 2 minutes.’”

The company replied that they were addressing this policy and that it had “evolved organically.” They’re a public relations company, so I would have thought that they’d come up with a better excuse than that. Anyway, if you look at review sites you can sometimes find the little chestnuts like this before you choose to work somewhere. Exercise caution though, if a review is in all caps, it’s probably best to ignore it.

It also helps to be familiar with your nervous habits before you go into an interview. Today, for instance, I found out that when I’m nervous I start to tell a lot of jokes.  This is fine as long as they’re good jokes, otherwise not so much. When my interviewer asked how my friends would describe me, I replied that a high school friend had said I was like a teddy bear with muscles. Luckily, my interviewer laughed, but it was a good thing the session ended before I got around to asking her why the chicken didn’t cross the road. Answer: Because he was chicken.

So do your research. Know thyself and thy prospective company. If you do that, you should be fine. Unless anything really terrible happens like the building catching fire or something, in which case you’re not fine—you should probably reschedule.

Last Day

Today was my last day at the University of Puget Sound. It snuck up on me. It was a bit like going down a water slide. You’re just lying back looking at the ceiling, when suddenly it occurs to you that you’d better hold your breath because you’re about to be shot out into the pool. I don’t know what future holds for me. I may end up in graduate school (fingers crossed). I may end up with writing or editing job. Or I may end up working at Starbucks or some similar place while I figure out what to do next. I don’t know. The good thing is that I’ve scheduled at least an hour a day to panic about it.

But for now, I’m happily ensconced in my favorite armchair with a cup of tea and a book. This is the life. To all of you who are still working hard on finals, hang in there. The end will come and soon you will be in your own favorite armchairs. In meantime, I’d like to reflect on some of the crazier things I did in college. Normally I’m not a wild sort of person. I start every morning with a scone and a cup of tea. But I did get to do some crazy stuff in college and I’d like to share it with you.

  • Driving in down town Tacoma when it was flooding. We had gone on a dessert run to Hello Cupcake, even though it was storming out. The rain was coming down in sheets and I had to get us back by three o’clock otherwise we’d be charged extra for the Zipcar. I didn’t know the roads and some of them were too flooded to use anyway. A lot of swearing was involved but in the end we made it. I earned those cupcakes.
  • Rock climbing at Vantage. In my junior year, I went on a PSO trip to Vantage. It was my first time ever rock climbing and the group decided to do a night climb. I climbed partway and then I realized how high it was. I remember thinking to myself “beep you Eleanor Roosevelt” halfway up the rock face. When I was a child my parents gave me a magnet with an Eleanor Roosevelt quote on it, “everyday do one thing that scares you.” Well, this was scaring me all right.
  • Taking four and a half units my second semester of junior year along with an internship and a thesis. Don’t ever do this. It’s exhausting and by the end of it you will want to punch something, either that or go cry in a corner.

I realize that to most of you these don’t sound that crazy. But I don’t like loud parties, drunk people, or risk of serious physical harm so these are my options. That’s okay though, I stretched myself and I’m really more of an armchair and tea person anyway. Except when I go out to hit the football post (I use it like a heavy bag)—but that’s another story.