Sometimes, particularly on a bad day, the weight of the world can seem as though it falls entirely on your shoulders.
It’s very hard to look beyond your problems when they’re all up in your face.
This mindset can make it seem reasonable to believe that you are the protagonist, not just of your own individual life, but of the universe. It’s easy to ask why bad things are happening to you, and even easier to trick yourself into thinking you’re alone in your worries, that you alone are having a terrible time.
On top of that, it can be kind of difficult to express these emotions to others.
I was rejected for a job opportunity this afternoon in the form of an email I read while at work, and for a time, my disappointment made it seem as though the world continued to spin around me, entirely unaware of my inner turmoil while I stood in the epicenter of it all, a motionless point amidst a swirling blur of people unattached to me, incapable of understanding.
I moved throughout the office in a sort of quiet haze, not quite sure how to regain my focus to accomplish anything I had set out to do that day. I was far too distracted by my frustration over a lost opportunity, over my inevitable return to the drawing board in my fruitless job search.
But I couldn’t keep this up.
I had an appointment soon to train a new volunteer in a position that involved hospitality and customer service.
I was not going to be a shining example of either if I kept up my moping.
So I sat calmly in my chair and stared blankly at my computer screen until she arrived.
Her name was Kirsty, and she was pretty young, I’ll guess maybe a couple years older than me. And she looked a little uncomfortable when I came to greet her and lead her from the lobby to my office, so I tried to engage.
“How are you?”
Pretty standard question. People (Kirsty included) usually respond with “good” or “fine” to be safe, then return the gesture.
I initially returned the vague sentiment and told her I was “okay.” But then we returned to that uncomfortable silence, so I continued.
“I was just turned down for a job so I’ve been better.”
She expressed her sympathy, and I’m certain she had no idea what else to say, so I sort of half-lied to her.
“It’s okay, you can’t win ‘em all. I’m over it, just gotta keep moving forward.”
And since I was only half-lying, I was also half-convincing myself it was true. As I turned on my “kind and knowledgeable while still cool and approachable teacher” persona, the forced smile and happy vibes I was oozing quickly became real vibes and a real smile.
And as I talked at Kirsty and she nodded in a combination of understanding and nervousness about being in an unfamiliar place and trying to quickly absorb information about her new role, I realized something else: to Kirsty, my problems were nonexistent.
She had her own entire day, her own entire life churning around her and the inside of her head – she was the protagonist of her own life, now sitting in a chair across from me while I gave her the rundown on how to volunteer for the Red Cross.
As I watched her facial expressions, I began to think of all the individual human beings milling around in the world outside of my tiny office, none of whom would ever know or care that I didn’t get the job I wanted.
It was in that moment that I understood that my rejection today really doesn’t matter at all.
We are all living, and we’ll all die someday on this tiny planet, which is hurtling away from billions of other planets and their stars faster than we can comprehend.
And I guess I just didn’t want to worry about it anymore, so I stopped.
And I’m feeling alright now.
Tomorrow’s another day.