A couple of weeks ago I went for a job interview. I had worked my little socks off preparing. I knew the organisation, the job and my own credentials inside out, upside down and back to front. I had done my confidence-boosting spiel in front of the mirror, I looked good, I felt good. Tick, tick, tick. To top it all off the interview went like a dream. We'll let you know by Friday, the panel beamed. I skipped out of the building. I felt as light as a feather, like I was walking on air, swimming in a sea of calm. I was already planning my celebratory night out.
Friday came and went. So did Monday and Tuesday. My confidence wavered, trembled, shook and, come Wednesday, finally stumbled off the precarious stool it had been foolishly prancing on: "The decision has been a difficult one, we had many well qualified candidates and this was a very competitive recruitment process. After careful consideration we regret to inform you that your application has been unsuccessful." Game over.
Now I'm a pretty resilient person and have faced my fair share of rejection. I was rejected by my university the first time I applied. My love for my first proper, non-celebrity crush was painfully unrequited. My products and bids on eBay are never successful and, as a writer, the vast majority of my work is never read, let alone rejected. However, this latest addition to the list was exceptionally hard to swallow. Rejection during the preliminary stage of a hiring process, i.e. when there are hundreds of CVs to choose from, is fine and dandy. Equally, should you decide not to hire someone when it's patently clear that they've neither brushed up on the position nor the employer, well that's just fairenoughski. BUT, when they've met you, you're qualified and, to top it all off, you've prepped to the extreme...well, that's just mean.
Whether you had your heart set on a job, on a person or on a pair of Glastonbury tickets, realising that your best simply wasn't good enough is a difficult truth to face up to. So, how do you pick yourself up, dust yourself off and get back on that grumpy pony in one smooth, seamless action?
Behold, the 5 Bauer pearls of wisdom:
1) Get clean and unwind. Stop whatever you're doing. I don't care if you're at work, hiking through Mongolia or are in an important meeting with your yogi. You find yourself a bathroom. You get in that tub and soak yourself in a bubble bath until your body is like a maxed-out sponge. In the absence of a tub, indulge in a long, hot shower accompanied by some nice-smelling body wash and music. Slip into something comfortable (no dingy sweats though), stick a food product courtesy of M&S in the oven and crack open your tipple of choice. Have an evening of just unwinding with whatever you find relaxing, whether that's Netflix, listening to your favourite music or starting the book you've had on your nightstand for weeks.
2) Get closure. If your interviewer is willing to give feedback on why you didn't get the job, prise it out of them. Have the cojones to ask why that second date never turned into a third (as ever, erring on the side of not being a psychopath). As well as being constructive this should also help you see the potential upsides of not having got what you wanted.
3) Be kind to yourself. This doesn't mean eating a tub of Ben & Jerry's every day or buying those surround sound speakers you've been lusting after. It means not pressuring yourself to reinitiate your quest all guns blazing. In the case of job-hunting, this means starting small. Rather than being glued to my laptop searching like a maniac for 6 hours straight (been there, done that, got the T-Shirt), I prefer to set myself a couple of realistic targets each day. This could be mapping out my contacts, reshaping my CV or making a list of publications I'd like to approach. I also regularly allow myself something that makes me happy or boosts my self-esteem; a haircut, cinema outing or long, lingering midweek lunch. Things move slower but in the long run I have more energy and confidence, meaning that I'll be fully charged and ready to go whenever the next great opportunity arises.
4) Find a theme song. Everyone should have an anthem for their particular quest, a song that really speaks to you but also acts as a little pick-me-up whenever you stumble off your own precarious stool. It should be a song that pumps you up when you're feeling deflated rather than tempt you to wallow. That means no Everybody Hurts, I Know It's Over or Without You. Great songs, bad anthems.
5) Have your champion on standby. Although you're obviously the sassiest, most disgustingly confident person in the universe, rejection is tough for everyone. It's also 118.2% harder to swallow when you're handling it alone. I'm a firm believer in everyone having a champion, someone who is there to pick you up no matter what, remind you of how great you are and of how far you've come. It could be your partner, friend, mother, or dog, whatever, just get one. And, more importantly, be their champion in return.