Thursday, December 23, 2010

Preparing for Disappointment

I'm not talking about the disappointment you feel when you got a reindeer sweater instead of an iPod as a Holiday gift (though I'm sure it's disappointing).  I'm talking about the kind of disappointment you feel when you fail or don't get something you want in life - like a job.

I had a phone interview today for a job I really wanted.  It wasn't a permanent position but the pay was good and the work was a good fit.  But, I think I failed to convince them of that. 

I can teach.  Ask anyone I've ever taught and they would agree.  I can teach and I can teach well.  And I know my stuff.  And if I don't know my stuff, I can learn my stuff.

I'm not trying to be conceited here.  I'm not bragging.  It just happens to be an ability I have.  What I don't have is instant recall.  Or an amazing memory. (Just ask the same people I've taught!!)  And that's where I failed.  They asked me a few technical questions for which I could not recall the exact steps.  Now, ask me to write a tip sheet on the very same thing, and, voila!  Just give me the few moments to brush off the knowledge and I'll present it in a way that can be understood.  Really. 

However, on the phone and under the gun, it's a no-go.  And they asked me about the steps to do something I hadn't done in about 4 years.  So, what's a girl to do....except to prepare for disappointment.  And it stinks.  Disappointment is never fun, but it happens.

I'm sad and frustrated as anybody would be.  I felt like crying and there would have been nothing wrong with that.  I didn't cry, though. 

I channeled my energy instead and baked some cookies for Christmas.  And while baking cookies I have rehashed and rehearsed what I could have said, should have said, might have said, but didn't.

So, I've thought about damage control - contacting the recruiter and reiterating my experience, my desire, my skills - but she's not the interviewer so how much good it would it really do?  I'll do it anyways, though since it can't really hurt.

I've figured out what I'd do differently next time.  Like saying, no I don't remember that particular sequence of steps at the moment but here's how I would handle it on the job and why you wouldn't be disappointed.

But now?  Now, it's time to get back on the horse and try it again.  Pick up, dust off, and keep going.  Easy?  No.  Necessary?  Yes.  Willing?  Mostly. (Hey, we're being honest here, right?)

But, above all, I need to be gentle with myself.  I need to remind myself I'm not perfect and that it's OK and to have faith that something else will come my way.

How do you prepare for and handle disappointment?


  1. Oh, Therese, I'm sorry that the interview didn't go as well as you wanted. Disappointment is hard, and it's especially hard when you believe (rightly or not) that you could have done something to avoid it.

    I find phone interviews very difficult. I usually conduct a number of interviews every year. Skype is a little better that only audio, but I think it is very hard for the interviewee to present her best self at a distance. Little consolation, I know.

    How do I prepare for and handle disappointment? Well, I'm often not prepared because I don't see it coming! But when faced with it, surprise or not, I try to step back from judging the situation.

    I go back to one of my favorite stories about the poor farmer (you probably know it already) whose only horse ran off. The neighbor said, oh what a disaster. The farmer said, who knows if it's good or bad. The horse returned leading a herd of wild horses. The neighbor said, oh what good fortune! The farmer said, who knows if it is good or bad. The farmer's only son broke his leg trying to tame one of the wild horses. Tragedy? The army came through the village taking all the young men...except the farmer's son.

    So give yourself a period of time to be disappointed. Honor your feelings. And at the end of the time, maybe you can trust that it will all work out to your good.

    Like Joseph said to his brothers who sold him into slavery, "You meant it for harm, but God meant it for good."

    Good luck!

  2. I second everything Galen said (and really wish I coud articulate it as well as she did!). Anyway, you've already gleaned so much from the experience that it wasn't a loss at all. Thanks for sharing and reminding me that there's a lesson to be learned from all experiences, even the disappointing ones.