I’m in a power struggle with the world right now, and the world is winning. Each day, I lose more and more control.
For instance, I’m jumping into an entirely new career and chapter in life. I’m applying to jobs outside of my comfort zone, for roles that are very new to me – where I’m not a veteran employee who can encourage and mentor the newbies. I am a newbie, and as a newbie, I’m experiencing a great deal of rejection.
Every week I apply to numerous jobs and receive the reply: After carefully reviewing your application we have decided to move forward with a candidate whose experience better meets our needs for this particular role.
Rejection after rejection. A blow to the ego. Detrimental to confidence. Beyond humbling.
On the challenging days, I find myself allowing rejection to redefine who I am. Not good enough. Not smart enough. Not experienced enough. Not worthy. Not valued. Sometimes, I wonder if rejection is so easy to grab hold of because I gave up a profession that constantly made me feel I was never doing enough. Maybe these feelings are dysfunctional comfort – my default setting after thirteen years. I didn’t realize how difficult unlearning would be.
I sat with my therapist today and admitted I was having a hard time staying present. My mind has been so busy I’m having trouble hearing God. Some days I get so fixated and obsessed about projects and business that I don’t eat or go to the restroom. More bad habits I’ve picked up from thirteen years of teaching. My therapist got out of her seat, walked across the room, and extended a pewter finger labyrinth. This is not the first time she has suggested a labyrinth to me, but it’s the first time I’ve been open to it.
I grabbed it with my right hand (my dominant hand) and traced the labyrinth with my left index finger. Within seconds, emotions strangled my heart and tears trickled down my cheeks as we both sat silent. When I was done, she asked me to close my eyes and feel my way through the labyrinth as she guided me through a breathing meditation. I opened my teary eyes, and with a gentle voice she said, “Tell me the difference between a labyrinth and a maze.”
It was as if my throat closed off my voice. I couldn’t respond. I sat in silence. I knew the answer.
“Could it be you are busying yourself to numb the emotions you’re feeling?” she finally asked after I avoided eye contact with her and a vocal response for a minute or so. “A labyrinth is different from a maze, and grounding, because there’s just one path.”
Still not able to find a vocal response, I mustered a smirk.
What are these emotions? I realize I have no language for them. I’m that eight-year-old and thirteen-year-old traumatized version of myself again who shut down in emotional conversations and just cried.
When my therapy session was up, I drove to a nearby church and walked their labyrinth. During this meditative walk, I discovered language for my emotions. Disheartened. Disappointed. Rejected. Rejection being the strongest root.
I thrive on affirmation during uncertainty, and since the only affirmation I’m getting from potential employers is rejection, I’m allowing rejection to define my success (or lack thereof). I’m allowing others to define my measure of worth and value. Others as in people I do not know – like at all. Hiring managers and recruiters who sum up my worth and value to their company by a resume not by who I am as a whole person.
Once I made it to the center of the labyrinth, I sat criss-cross applesauce on the ground as the sun hit the left side of my body and the shade protected the right side of my body – the balance of light and dark was not lost on me. I closed my eyes. I reminded myself of my core values: truth and compassion. This quiet moment with God and the universe led to new conclusions.
I’m giving rejection the power and allowing rejection to redefine who I am. Instead of rejection being a power sucker, I could reframe it. Rejection is an opportunity to trust God’s one path, planned just for me. I’m doing my part – working my tail off for a new beginning – now, I’ve got to be courageous enough to let God lead me.
The truth is change and growth are full of discomfort, of failures, of setbacks, of rejection. Change is also full of learning, growing, and discovery. I just need to reframe the narrative.
When I trust God, life isn’t a maze. It’s a labyrinth.