Never give up. People will always discount you, and you’ll always get rejected. But set your sights high. Be boldly ambitious. Be relentless and never give up. – Reshma Saujani
This year, so far, has had so many great things happening for me and in my life. I stepped out of my comfort zone professionally through Twitter, leading PD for my district, earning coveted certifications (Google Level 1&2, Google Certified Trainer) my oldest son and his family moving back to GA, my youngest son transferring colleges back to GA, and my husband getting the best dedicated trucking assignment since he began a new career in August 2017. We were all on a roll and life felt perfect!
Then came the disappointments: a job opportunity rejection; professional development proposals denied; not being selected for the Google for Education Certified Innovators Program; and general frustrations of standing still while everyone, and everything, around you are passing by at what appears to be lightning speed. I’ve been rejected from jobs before and I’ve rebounded rather quickly. However, this time it was rapid fire rejection. Three of them came 2 weeks apart. These feelings of failing beyond recovery were rushing in and doubt grew roots. I began to question myself and all the choices I’d made in my life up until this point. I needed a break from my thoughts ASAP!
Fall Break came 2 days after I got the email from Google, so it was perfect timing to go get out of my head, relax, recharge, and spend time with my husband on a get-away vacation we planned a few months earlier. We decided to go hiking, something I’ve never done before, in The Great Smoky Mountains and then drove on up to Gatlinburg, TN for the rest of the weekend. I was desperately in need of a respite from the emotional toll I was experiencing and I thought a walk in the woods, on a clear and cool Autumn day, would be the best medicine. Boy, was I in for a surprise!
As we approached the beginning of the trail, I became excited for the adventure we were about to embark upon and extremely nervous because I thought I wasn’t physically prepared enough to complete the course. Nevertheless, I strapped on my newly purchased survival backpack, grabbed my liter water bottle and my hiking stick, took my obligatory newbie photo and started on my way ahead of my seasoned hiker husband.
After what I thought was 1/2 the distance to the destination, I asked how much longer we had to go, he said “about 1.5 miles”. We hadn’t gone a mile yet! Ugh! I suddenly felt overwhelmed with the realization that I’m nowhere near the end and giving up IS an option because we weren’t that far up the trail- but that would make me a failure…again.
I started crying. I knew this moment wasn’t just associated with how much farther I had to go. These tears were deeply rooted in something else. These tears were about who I was at that moment and all the recent rejections I had received. I was questioning my ability to make sound decisions. My husband unhooked my backpack, hands me my water bottle, and sits me down in a cool shaded area. He asks about my welfare and what I was thinking. I poured my heart out. I felt: like a failure; inadequate; unaccomplished; stagnant; #failforward is a lie; #rejectionrebound another lie!
He wiped my tears away, looked me in the eyes and said “You’re not a failure, inadequate, unaccomplished, nor stagnant. You were rejected. If you give up on this hike you will experience failure. Besides, I’m not going to let you quit. So, rest in the shade, drink your water, rebound from the rejection, and let’s reach our goal!”
I shook my head in agreement, stood up, and started back up the trail. Along the way we came across other hikers coming down and they all said the same thing “you’re almost there; you can make it; the view is worth it-trust us.” Encouragement was coming from strangers…talk about perfect timing! An hour later we made it to the bluffs and the view WAS amazing! We sat down and soaked in the quiet serenity of nature for about 30 minutes.
On the way down the trail I began thinking about this post. Had I given in and turned around I would have failed at my #failforward #rejectionrebound mindset. I would have spent the rest of our vacation mad at myself and miserable thereby making my husband unhappy and he didn’t deserve that version of me.
I’m glad I checked off an item I didn’t even know was on my Bucket List by forging ahead when the going got really tough. We went Zip Lining the next day. Score another point for stepping out of one’s comfort zone and pushing personal limits. It was easier because of the previous day and both events brought clarity to my mind.
Fail Forward and Rejection Rebound are more than hashtags that sound great on Twitter. They are a mindset that should be active in every aspect of your life. My Fall Break vacation gave me new ideas about my next application to the Google for Education Innovators Academy. I received feedback about the other opportunities I didn’t get to be part of so I can make improvements on those applications as well. With each new application/proposal it will be #failforward because I tried, and if I get another “Unfortunately…..”letter/email, I will execute #rejectionrebound because I will try again.