The Journey of a Thousand No’s

When I was a kid I used to play dress up. One day I was a chef, a designer or an artist. The next I was a doctor, a teacher or a veterinarian. I loved to be creative and I was passionate about helping others, but most importantly, the sky was the limit to me. I would sit in the basement of my childhood home taking on any and every role I could think of, dreaming of the day I would make one of them a reality.

We took tests in elementary school to uncover what jobs would be the best fit for us. 100 questions later and there it was – my future. At least according to the algorithm driving the survey, but either way, it helped to put me one step closer to making my dreams come true. All of the results aligning with what I was already interested in doing one day.

I powered through middle school and high school. I made decent grades and despite battling depression and other personal matters, I made it to graduation. I was on my way to college and I couldn’t have been more excited. I was really almost there.

But, college was no joke. From juggling classes to my personal life, there were so many days that I felt like I wouldn’t make it. Yet, three years later and I was back on that stage – walking with my bachelor’s degree in marketing to what felt like the finish line. I had finally made it. I knew starting my adult life wouldn’t be easy. But, in my head, I had prepared for this right? It’s why I took the classes I did, worked those part time jobs and internships, and made sacrifice after sacrifice to my mental health and more, just to get to this very moment. I was prayerful that all of my effort would be worth something.

I’m a creative, a writer and an out-of-the-box thinker. I put others before myself and always felt like I was destined to be somebody great. So when I found myself post graduation still working what was supposed to be a summer operations/customer service job, I felt lost. Even more than that, nearly every job application that I submitted came back with the same response:

No.

Or more so:

Thank you for your time, however, we have decided to continue with an applicant whose experience more so aligns with what we are looking for.

The words cut deep every single time. A few months of rejection and I stopped checking my emails. All that was in there were denials and junk mail. I couldn’t believe it. I felt like a statistic. Like a failure. Like I was stuck. It made going to work every day that much harder. I started to disconnect from my family, friends and relationship.

Almost a year later and I started to feel unrecognizable. It was like there was no longer a breath of life in me. I could look in the mirror and not recognize who was looking back. As much as I wanted to give up and just quit, something kept telling me to hang in there. I began power networking – meeting with any and everybody I could. I worked at a large financial institution and at my building alone there were so many opportunities to put myself out there. So I did. It took one leap of faith until I met a man who made it seem like he understood me.

The day we first met I was skeptical. It seemed like he was selling me everything I wanted to hear. As a matter of fact, after just one conversation he told me:

“Give me 30 days and I’ll get you a new job. It won’t be in marketing, but trust me, it’ll get you a step closer to getting there.”

I was in disbelief, an utter state of shock. There was no way this man would be able to do that, but sure enough he did. 30 days later not only was I in a new role, I was getting paid more too. It felt too good to be true and in the coming months I found out it was. It took me a while before I realized I had just traded one dead end job for another. Except this new position came with something extra pay couldn’t make up for: bad management. So here I was again, almost two years out of college now, feeling like I was stuck in quick sand, slowly sinking with no way out.

I continued networking, but while most people were empathetic with my situation, due to corporate politics and shitty HR policies, there wasn’t much they could do to help. At least not yet. According to just about everyone I had met, the “sweet spot” was to spend at least two years in my role. Anything less than that and it would make it look like I was running away from something unfavorable. Little did they know that I was slightly over a year (more than two years total with the company) and I was already thinking about quitting. Their conversations kept pushing me closer and closer to doing so. However, the reality was I now had my own apartment, bills and responsibilities that prevented me from pulling the trigger.

I went home one night and laid in my bed crying. Feeling hopeless about my situation. On one hand I knew I should be grateful to have a job and some form of income. But, on the other hand, I knew my purpose was so much greater than this and there was no worse feeling than knowing you could be doing so much better and after working your ass off, still not getting there.

I took a moment to breathe and applied for a job that came across my LinkedIn. It seemed way out my league, calling on experience that I didn’t quite have but I told myself this would be my last shot. I mean, the worst thing that would happen is that it would sit in my inbox with the rest of my collection of rejection emails. But, to my surprise, the next day they wrote back looking for an interview. One interview turned into three more and then a job offer.

The day I got my offer letter I cried tears of joy because I finally was headed somewhere great – somewhere I felt like I was meant to be. The position was everything I had hoped for, I would be working with a team of people just as dedicated and passionate as I am and the pay was more than I had imagined.

“When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hang on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.”

Harriet Beecher Stowe

I’m now two months into my marketing career and it still amazes me how everything has happened. It’s crazy to look back and think about what I had been through or that just a few months ago I was ready to give up. Sometimes we don’t know why we’re holding on. It can seem like the light at the end of the tunnel is just a figment of our imagination.

I never thought I’d be where I am today and to those who have been through a similar journey or are currently on that path right now, know that there is something out there for you. Know that you are more than enough and one day somebody is going to come around and be excited to take a chance with you. It may not always feel like it, but we are all destined for something great. Our journey there is filled with many bumps in the road, but the destination makes it all worth it.