“Dear Arielle, thank you so much for submitting your application. After reviewing it, we have unfortunately, however, decided to move forward with other candidates at this time. Although our paths did not align…”
I took a long sip of lukewarm earl grey milk tea after reading this latest job rejection email earlier this March. It marked six months of unemployment and the record of sending hundreds of job applications since I graduated university, bright-eyed and excited to enter the workforce. What happened next, you ask? Frankly, I sobbed.
Rejections of any kind are painful, no matter how small. The caliber of their effect on you amplifies when it’s rejection for the same thing, over and over again, like a job application.
During the tender, pandemic summer of June 2020, I was a college graduate who thought I was the exception to the brutality of the job hunting process. Well, reality projectiled me off my high horse at warpspeed (I will always be grateful for that, by the way). During my five years in college, I thought that by taking on internships and jobs the moment I could start working, kickstarting my full-time career would be easy after graduation–regardless of what was going on in the world.
That was my first mistake. A pandemic swept the nation. #covid19
The second mistake–the most critical one–was believing that my resume would have done all the talking for me. I thought my passion for working hard, as shown on an aesthetic PDF, was enough to get me hired.
Don’t get me wrong. Passion is a beautiful thing. We can never have enough of it, there are no limits as to what it can be reserved for, and I especially don’t believe people ever need to apologize for caring about things. It’s the main driving force that makes us want to do anything in the first place, whether that be big or small, serious, or simply delightful to experience. You can, however, sit too long in inaction.
After blowing my nose and wiping my puffy eyes, I took a step back from job hunting for a while to reflect on the process and remembered this: passion isn’t enough to accomplish the things you want in life. You need to keep showing up for it–and yourself.
But goodness gracious, that is the last thing you want to hear when showing up is what you’ve been doing the whole time. I know anyone who has endured job hunting after graduation will say the same thing. When you’re exhausted from scrolling for hours on job boards and submitting application after application–knowing what you have created was your best one yet to only to be rewarded a generic rejection email, insecurity and feelings of inadequacy eventually slither under your skin and make you ask the awful question: “Am I even good enough?”.
Spoiler alert: you are, I am, we all are. We always will be. Even though it doesn’t feel that way.
Earlier I mentioned that passion is the driving force that propels us to pursue and accomplish goals in the first place. Something I wish I could tell my past self, however, is that it’s only one half of the equation, the complement to the whole of an abstract miracle we call “fulfillment”.
The other half, you ask?
Perseverance. Also known as resilience, tenacity, fortitude–and all the other synonymous power words we genuinely think are awesome.
Accomplishing goals is difficult, but sometimes I wish that that weren’t the case. I wish that I could be instantly gratified every now and again because suffering sucks, there are days where I’m lazier than a cat sleeping under the sun, my perfectionist mindset gets the best of me, and during self-absorbed moments, I have a moment where I feel entitled to what I want in life.
We often talk about how working hard is the key to success, but I think we should open up about how genuinely draining it can be, even though we know deep down that it ultimately leads us to better things.
If passion is the spark, then perseverance is the test.
It’s the hardest part, but that’s where we find the most strength and value in ourselves. Most importantly, it’s the concrete step that gives tangibility to passion.
When I think about the job application process, my mind wanders to other things I care about as well: my mental health, my loved ones, the book series I’m writing, the possibilities of living a life that surpasses my expectations in the best way. Even life and existence itself, honestly.
That’s when I come back to Earth and breathe.
Failure is inevitable. Your feelings of wanting to be at the finish line already are valid. But you can’t celebrate victory unless you keep moving forward. You lose when you give up. I know that we’re all aware that we will fail so many times in life, but that’s just a part of the process.
Most of all, however, I believe that moving forward is a victory in and of itself.
Throughout life, there will be moments where we convince ourselves we don’t have time anymore, there’s an easier path to take, we can compromise our dreams, or our passions stop after a certain point.
Passion is also more layered and multifaceted than we think. Initially, it seems passion leads us to a singular goal. Yes, that is correct, but when you really reflect on it, passion opens the doors to an infinite number of possibilities and opportunities, and we should never prevent ourselves from opening them all.
You’re probably wondering, “Well, how does this relate back to job hunting?”.
When I first started job hunting, I always saw it as the foundation to everything else I wanted in life. Yes, I want to pay for bills because I need to survive, but I also crave to explore how I can thrive in a career that makes me happy. Stable income also gives me the opportunity to invest more in the quality of my life in general. I can buy more books, travel to beautiful places, and I can buy lunch for my parents!
A singular failure or rejection can feel defining, but you need to recognize that giving up for a single moment has the power to affect everything else that has meaning to you in relation to it. But don’t worry if you lose yourself in failure for a moment. That’s normal and okay. What matters is that you bring yourself out of it. If you can do it for one goal, the same can be done for all the others.
You can dream of the future forever, but that won’t make your dreams come true. Living a life of perseverance is the deciding factor that determines whether or not you get to tell the story of your success.
I submitted my application to become Pulse Marketing’s Creative Writer back in April, believing that maybe one more application would help me move forward, even if they could have rejected me like companies before them. It becomes addicting to know that there’s a small window of success because what have you got to lose? I would rather have millions of failures in my life rather than regret because I didn’t do anything.
The difference with my application to Pulse was that when I pressed “submit”, I knew I gave them a resume that showed my authentic self. I trusted that my passion would be seen, and if hired, I would demonstrate just how much of my character and tenacity I had to offer. If it wasn’t the right fit, then I will keep showing that resume to others. If my instinct says so, I will change an element of my job hunting process or general job application so that there’s a chance the next result would be different. Something small always comes out of it, but that doesn’t make it any less valuable or meaningful.
Most of all, after facing so many failures and months where I lacked self-worth, I vowed that regardless of the outcome, I would always put my best foot forward.
It would be a real shame if I stopped.
Nice to meet you, by the way. I’m Arielle. Pulse’s Creative Writer.