nothing to lose

Thank you for applying for the position of  Departmental Technician. The Department carefully evaluated your qualifications . . . we have found you do not meet the requirements.

I closed the attachment and archived the email. Those two mouse clicks weren’t nearly as satisfying as crumpling up a physical letter and tossing it in the trash would have been. Maybe I can print it out and set it on fire, I mused.

Like poking my tongue at a sore tooth, I found the email and re-read the letter. It still said the same thing: not hired. I was relieved to notice it was time for my lunch break. I felt tears building and didn’t really want to explain why I was crying to the coworkers who I would have abandoned in fifteen days had the letter read differently. I exited the email once more, gathered my things, and walked to my car to call Peter.

“I didn’t get that job,” I squeaked out before the tears started.

“Why not?” he asked.

I tried to control myself before answering, but I worried that he would mistake the silence for a dropped call.

“They said I wasn’t qualified,” I whimpered.

“Don’t cry,” he urged me. “It will be okay.”

He was right. I have a decent job, one that allowed me to escape from a micro-manager, evening and weekend hours, and a paycheck that made me eligible for WIC.  I have a set schedule, but still have flexibility to take time off to take care of my family. I work with a good team led by a boss who doesn’t make me miserable. I thought of friends who are unemployed or underemployed. What am I crying about?

I ended the call with Peter, took a deep breath and redialed. I left a voice mail for my best friend letting her know about the rejection and thanking her for her help in preparing my cover letter and résumé. Can’t even tell I was crying, I thought.

When the HR department sent the notice about the vacant position, I had to talk myself into applying. The job would pay more, offer new challenges, but let me keep my set schedule and seniority.  I have nothing to lose, I convinced myself. My best friend agreed. “You have to keep yourself fresh,” she advised.  By the time she was finished with my application, I felt like I could do and be anything. I went into the interview feeling excited and empowered.

I spent two hours answering questions and falling in love with the job. The employees were nodding and smiling. I got a laugh or two. I felt like I was connecting with them. This would be a great team to work with, I thought. Knowing I had nothing to lose, I answered their questions honestly. That meant admitting my experience with one of the requirements was limited.

According to the rejection notice sent two weeks later, that was “a primary requirement of the position.”

We wish you the best in your attempt to find another position.

The truth is I’m not trying to find another position. I didn’t need a new job, but I found myself wanting it. By wanting it, I had something to lose.

I guess a few tears were in order.

36 thoughts on “nothing to lose

  1. Don’t lose that fire! That feeling like there is nothing you can’t achieve. I don’t know what the future holds for you, but even if it wasn’t in that position, even if you are completely happy in one you are in, the world will always be your oyster and things always have a funny way of falling into place. Who knows you may find a gem where you would have never looked had you gotten the position 🙂


  2. We always lose a little – self worth, pride, confidence. But all of those things are like the lizard’s tail. They grow back with the love and encouragement of family and friends! (Better than the lizard, really, ’cause he has to do it all by himself!)


  3. It’s a rare person who has never been there. You’re stronger for it and something that is even better will eventually come along (even though you aren’t looking 😉


  4. Tears just mean that you cared. It’s good to care about something these days as it would be so easy to numb ourselves and go through the motions. As Stacie said right above, ‘it’s a rare person who has never been there.’
    It also sounds like you have a fantastic support system and sweet family. Best wishes–this was a fantastic sharing of something very personal.


  5. “By wanting it, I had something to lose.” Isn’t this so true! I feel sort of dishonest when I tell my kids, “The worst that can happen if you try/ask is that someone tells you ‘no,’ so keep trying.” Because of course it’s our hopes and confidence that can be lost. Sorry things didn’t work out for you that time! Wishing you even better opportunities ahead.


  6. Oh, Cyn! You did such a great job writing this — I hope that is compensation for momentarily dashed hopes. Plus, getting an interview should be encouragement to keep your eyes open for opportunities. Been there a few times myself.


  7. “I didn’t need a new job, but I found myself wanting it.” Sometimes the biggest gift is when a loss can help us figure out what we really want. After you are done licking your battle wounds I have a feeling you will be back for more!


  8. great post. that moment when “nothing to lose” changes to “desire on the line.” I am familiar with it, and you portrayed the stinging moment so well.


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