Aspen Princess: Learning to deal with rejection
December 22, 2014
I am not good at rejection.
I take it really hard. I stew in it. I can throw the biggest pity party you've ever seen — even if no one comes. I can have conversations in my own head that keep me up at night that I'll never have and compose emails I'll never send to those people in my life who have uttered those two little letters that are like kryptonite to a princess: "No."
I don't like being told "no." I'm so spoiled, it's to the point where I'll avoid certain situations if rejection is even a remote possibility. If you look at the files in my shrink's office, I'm sure there's something about that scribbled under the "underachiever" status I've earned since I was young. I've always been pretty unwilling, for the most part, to put any effort into anything I wasn't good at. It was my own preventive medicine. The thing is that it kind of worked out. It preserved my ego and sent me down a path to success.
My husband is the exact opposite. Nothing fazes him, and his confidence is bulletproof. He doesn't hesitate for one second and will put it all out there without any fear.
When I suggested renting my condo to a music student and moving into his apartment, he said, "Do it."
When I said maybe we wait to have sex when we first met, he said, "Until when, tomorrow?"
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Unlike me, he does not have a problem with rejection. His mother taught him right. When things don't go your way in the Margo family, you don't sit around and feel sorry for yourself. You're told, "Let it go, Louie. It's time to move on!"
If you don't let it go, if you choose to stew or to get emotional or to cry, you're benched. You're out of the game if you're not helping the team.
This was a far cry from the way I was raised. In my family it was, "Oh, poor baby. Should we take a mental-health day?"
When I had a tough time at school, my mother would literally pull me out for the day and take me shopping and out to lunch. Sometimes we'd go to the makeup counter and have our faces done and she would always buy me something I didn't need. It was a clear and unabashed introduction to retail therapy — and from a certified therapist.
All this coddling, while memorable and fun, was not the best approach when it came to providing me with the necessary defenses I eventually would need to function as an adult in the world. Mastering the art of throwing a good tantrum hasn't served me so well in my adult life.
All that aside, I ended up with a pretty charmed life. Once I squeaked through high school with a C-minus average and managed to finagle my way into a decent college (after a year off, a year at community college where I earned in-state residency status and finally graduating at age 24), I was able to forge the career path of my dreams.
I never once applied for a job. Every job I ever had that was worth anything was offered to me. Once I found my niche, writing about women in action sports, it seemed like I could write my own ticket, literally, anywhere in the world I wanted to go.
It was kind of the same deal once I arrived here in Aspen. The love I felt for this town was mutual from the get-go. And what's more, the opportunities that landed in my lap were unexpected and maybe even undeserved, like when I got that email from The New York Times asking me if I'd be interested in writing for it.
"That's kind of a big leap, from The Aspen Times to The New York Times," I'd responded.
Then one day, I hit my glass ceiling. I'd gone as far as I could with writing for newspapers and magazines, and it was time for something more. I could write a book, I thought. Or apply for a full-time job.
I assumed, or presumed, this would be as easy as everything else had been. But it turns out the career card I drew some time ago has expired. And since I've had to put actual effort into it, I've been rejected — not once, but several times. And in this day and age, there is no more professional decorum. No news is not good news. No news means, "Rather than have an awkward and unpleasant conversation with you, or send you a polite email, we're just going to ignore you until you go away."
I no longer have the composure of youth on my side, that time of ignorance and bliss when you can just skip through life because you have your whole future ahead of you. I'm no longer young and hip and talented for my age. I'm nervous in interviews and awkward on the phone because I have so much more to lose. And whatever you do, don't ever wear a chunky knit cowl-neck sweater vest to an interview no matter how trendy you think you are, unless you want your complexion to resemble the shade of a vegetable.
The other thing I've learned is that if you get knocked down, you have to dust yourself off and get right back up (even if your mother would still be willing to indulge you with a mental-health day if you asked her for one). The best advice I've been given is, "Success is measured by how well you deal with failure."
So maybe these things that are so much harder will pay off more in the long run. Or maybe I never should have bought that stupid sweater vest when what I really needed was a new pair of shoes.
The Princess wants to become a blogger so she can say all the things she shouldn't say. Email your love to firstname.lastname@example.org.