I'm having a bit of a "dark cafe day" today. It's been a while since I had one. It's a little hard to process the fact that even when I'm better, I may still have bad days; I feel scared that it could be the start of another bad month or year...or decade. I'm still getting used to the idea of being generally happy, so any time some unhappiness comes along and takes me back to my old miserable state, I get scared. I don't want to go back there.
I was doing pretty well today, but I received an email this evening informing me that I didn't get the internship that I really wanted. I was rejected from the other places I applied to as well, and I put a lot of time and effort into the whole process. But the competition for these things is really intense and oftentimes I am competing against graduate students so even if I have more experience in my field than the average undergrad, I'm going to be beat out every time by master's candidates. Anyways, I had found this particular internship a couple of weeks ago right before the due date. It was for an organization I really admire and in a field I am very passionate about. To my shock, I got an interview, which I thought went quite well, and seemed more on level with an entry-level internship, if you will. The time frame of the thing was perfect...I could go on. Needless to say, I was extremely disappointed to hear I didn't get the job.
I've faced a lot of rejection in my life. I don't let it stop me from continuing to put myself back out there, but it does string a little, some times more than others. This was one of those times. Rejection has always been a bit of a trigger for me to go into an emotionally darker place. It caters to my social anxiety, playing up my fears that people don't like me or I said something wrong or I didn't interview well enough so the people didn't pick me. It reminds me of my underlying loneliness and long-time feeling of being isolated and pushed to the outside. I never feel good enough for other people, even if I like myself pretty well. Rejection brings back sad memories of loneliness and hurt and takes me back to feelings I've long since buried because the pain they bring is one I don't know how to resolve or handle.
One tough thing about rejection is I always want to know why I wasn't chosen - what's wrong with me, what I did wrong, and what made the other candidate better. But only about 0.1% of the time do you get to find that out. The truth of the matter is that people don't always have a reason or the reason isn't necessarily anything to do with your failings; the decision may just have been the whim of the decision-maker, who had a complex set of intentions and qualities they were looking for...or just wanted to pick people they knew. But there's no way for you to know that, so you just feel not good enough.
The other tough thing about rejection is that it tends to be cumulative, and the more you get rejected, the more you get rejected, and the worse you feel about it and the worse it is to apply to new things. Employers want job experience, but you were rejected from job opportunities, so they reject you too. And same goes for school clubs and boyfriends. Anyways, rejection seems to come in giant rolling snowballs, like places where it's either sunny or pouring down rain, never cloudy or drizzly or anything in between. And the more you're rejected, the worse you feel when you get rejected again.
I've been turned down by countless school clubs, excluded by peers, abandoned by friends, rejected by jobs, vetoed by romantic interests. etc. So when the bad news came today, it just got me thinking back again to all the times I've been told, "No, you're not good enough for us" after a stressful, time-consuming, emotionally taxing process I put a lot into. And it hurts. It makes my self-esteem sky dive. It makes me mourn lost friends and lost opportunities. I know people don't like to hear about people feeling pessimistic; they want to either make fun of them for being so sensitive or encourage them to buck up and try again and have optimism.
But I know I will try again; this is my fourth round of applying to these dumb internships and each round has been 90% rejection. I auditioned for goodness knows how many more clubs after being rejected from my first. I kept introducing myself to new friends after so many didn't work out. I continued to fall head over heels even after I had my heart crushed. But every "no" still hurts, and I let it hurt.
I guess today was also hard because I was writing about my past earlier, so I relived all of the struggles of the past two years and beyond. I usually keep those things locked away in the back of my mind where they can't bother me, but I've been finding recently that trips down memory lane can be quite dangerous. It can be a relief to realize I didn't make up that I struggled in the past; being better now, I often question if things were really so bad. But recalling what happened and past wrongs committed against you makes you mourn dreams lost and hurts suffered. Adding another pain to the list today made me dwell on the somewhat unfair hand dealt to me at times.
I know I am extremely blessed, but I also know that my life has been a lot harder than many of my peers. And while I give things for the things those hard experiences have taught me, I feel frustrated too...cheated out of good things, underappreciated, ignored. People don't give extra credit for suffering, after all. You can't put pain on your resume. In fact, it often detracts from it; blank years where you could've worked a job except you were too sick. Skipped interviews because you were too stressed.
Some days are spent "hiding behind bottles in dark cafes", I guess.