This is going to be another of those embarrassingly personal posts. That’s embarrassing for me, and for all I know, for you too.
On the weekend I applied for a job that seemed ideally suited to not just my skills ad expertise, but my circumstances too. It was to assist a major energy utility formulate processes to manage those suffering from hardship.
After some thought I penned a cover note that touched on both aspects, before consulting with the Cheeses (who had referred the job to me in the first instance) who urged me to reveal more – namely, to admit that I was not only sympathetic to the less fortunate, but that I in fact had been one of them – and had taken advantage of the hardship consideration.
Today I found out my application had been unsuccessful. So unsuccessful in fact that I was not even deemed worthy of an interview.
There’s an entirely random element in applying for work. I’m considered a worthy contender for roles I think I have only a passing expertise with; and am ignored for roles I think I’m perfect for. Despite my circumstances I generally roll with the punches. You must, lest you get rapt up and consumed by it. Rhyme or reason isn’t a universal rule, and there’s no such thing as meant to be. Sometimes it gets to me though.
It got to me today.
Much as you seek to operate in the functional here and now there’s a part of you that registers every one of these disappointments. It may not be at the forefront of your mind, but these things get processed, analysed, and ultimately a judgement is made. The judgement might be innocuous. It might contain lessons to be learnt. Sometimes it becomes more personal.
There’s no doubt that I’m trading a stock the market values poorly. There’s no getting away from it, and it’s not a pleasant consideration. There was a time I was one of the highest valued stocks going around, though it’s equally clear that my personal stock has always been pretty volatile (something which gives me hope).
I don’t like being rated so poorly. It goes beyond the practical considerations of earning a wage and forging a career path. It becomes personal.
Now, I could take that to heart, or I could reject it. I’m not sure which is the more reasonable response. My instinct is to reject it, which is when I undergo a range of emotions that barely vary from one episode to the next – and which I felt in full again today.
Though the market rates me a penny stock I see intrinsic value that is obviously overlooked (but then I would, wouldn’t I?). All the usual rallying cries are ticked off, about how capable I am, about my vigour and intellect, about my calm, determined temperament, and drive to get things done. Not to mention the attributes that no-one seems to value these days – creativity, imagination and life experience.
That’s all my side of the story of course, but I think pretty valid regardless. I was valued highly once, and I’ve lost none of that since, and probably added to it – it’s the quirks of the market that has driven my price down.
It is, of course, a process of re-validating yourself. If the only choice is to keep believing in yourself – as you must – then there must be justification for that self-belief – regardless of recent evidence to the contrary
At the same time, and in parallel with this, there is a sense of futility and immense frustration. If I’m such a paragon why am I rated so poorly? I’m energised. I feel strident and muscular. My mind feels sharp. I stalk the floor, busting to express myself, busting to be the figure in my mind, busting for the opportunity to get face to face and to prove it. Yet I can’t. And so it boils in me.
I feel that still as I write this, but it’s subsiding. I understand the feeling. Even now I can’t say it’s not reasonable. The sense of being musclebound yet being restrained permeates me. It is what it is though. As always I have to swallow my frustration and disappointment. My mind begins to shift to the next time.
Over-arching this is something existential. The arc, or narrative of my life, and the meaning of me. Once upon a time it seemed clear. Now it seems fuzzy and indeterminate, like a radio station poorly tuned.
I’m not against experience, which is what I’m gaining. If I am to come out of this into a better and easier place then it would make sense. I always believed that, but time is running out. And I’m dogged by something that Rainer Maria Rilke said once, and which seems a worthy objective:
“The purpose of life is to be defeated by ever greater things.”
Truth is that I’m getting beaten by smaller things all the time, no matter how hard I strive.