Story time, gather round! I am going to tell you a story about failure and how at first I was a hot effing mess before I was able to manifest success. I landed my dream position after being told no! Through self advocacy, I wound up exactly where I am meant to be. If you have areas of your life that could be improved if only you found the strength to speak up, then you’re going to want to read on.
I am in the last semester in getting my Masters in Social Work. (Woo-Woo–Class of 2019!) As part of our training we are placed in two internships for a year each. In the second year, your fields of interest are considered and there is a bit more say on our part of where we wind up. Social work is a big field, social workers are EVERYWHERE. The type of social work I entered the program wanting to do is psychotherapy, I want to be a therapist.
Envisioning My Path
When I spoke with my advisor, I made it clear that I wanted to be placed somewhere I’d work clinically and directly with clients. She told about an opportunity at a well known university to work in the counseling center. The catch was, unlike most internships for social workers, this one is highly competitive. I could be rejected. PSHHHH! I am a fantastic interviewer, a passionate student, and an asset to any team I work on.
I looked at the counseling center’s website and fell head over heels in love and knew that is exactly where I belong. The school was far from where I lived, but other than that it was exactly where I wanted to be. Their training program is unmatched. I would be co-facilitating groups and doing individual therapy with undergraduates and graduates. Being the manifester that I am, I was there. That position was mine.
I was actually visiting Betty in Miami when I got the call that they liked my resumé and they invited me for an interview. Betty, my lovely personal hype-man, amped me up even more, giving me all her good vibes and energy. A couple days later I flew home, and the next morning I woke up very early and made my way to my interview.
It went awesome! They gave me the position on the spot! Big JK here!
Grappling with Failure
So, that’s not what happened at all. Here is what really happened: I spent the next two weeks checking my email 5 million times a day. I was waiting in agony to hear back. Finally, an email from one of the people I interviewed with popped up on my phone, right as I was about to take a group of eighth grade students into state testing. I didn’t get the position. To prepare for testing, I had to lock my phone away. I was going to have silent and with my thoughts for an indeterminable amount of time. Cool. 😒
I tried so HARD to fight back tears. Especially, because I did not want to distract my students while they were taking their tests and have them wondering what has Ms. Cardinalle crying about in the middle of PARCC testing. (I LOATHE state testing but that’s another story for another time.) It was my responsibility to “circulate” the room while the students tested.
It isn’t easy for me to tell you this– but in the name of being vulnerable and truth telling, I bawled my eyes out while my students sat at their computers taking their tests. Turns out teachers are real people and sometimes when they get bad news circulating the room is just not a viable option. I tried to hide my face the best I could and let the tears pass, and eventually they did, and then they’d come up again.
After testing they asked my why I was crying and I told them. Some of them shared stories about not getting into the high schools where they applied. They offered words of encouragement to me and each other. They were so sweet, I miss them very much.
One of my interviewers sent me a kind follow up email. She said I was a “high caliber” candidate, however, she the team felt that my interests weren’t aligned with the agency. No! What they hell did I say to make her believe that?
Later on I spoke with my advisor and told her I would have to interview elsewhere. She said, “This barely ever happens, just a few times in my career.” Awesome.
My advisor sent me other placements and I looked at everything with disappointment. I turned down another position I offered to me. That original internship, that was my internship. Maybe I am stubborn, maybe I can’t deal with being told no, maybe I just know exactly what is right for me, or maybe school is expensive and I want the most bang for my buck. I could not let go of the place that had rejected me.
Advocating for Myself After Rejection
I couldn’t get the words from that second email out of my head. I AM right for this position! It’s aligned with my I called my advisor and said, “Would you please ask them to reconsider?” She told me the spot still was available and she said she would call.
They granted me a second interview. I tried to remember all the questions they had asked the first time and how I answered them. Playing it all over in my head, I tried to prepare. I did not want to have to cope with rejection for the second time.
That second time I interviewed with a different team, and yes, I got it! I have been there six months. It has been one of the greatest learning and growing experiences of my life. This is the work I am meant to be doing.
Self Advocacy May Open Doors to Success
Why do have I shared this with you? Great things can happen when you advocate for yourself. Doors open! Can’t promise it will turn out for me in this scenario, it will unlikely happen this way for me again. The point is we will never know unless we take a chance and SPEAK UP!
A few people said to me, “I knew it wasn’t really no.” I also knew it wasn’t really no. Asking for a second chance was really brave. Even if they didn’t give me a second interview, I think it was an important step in learning to empower myself. This time it worked out great.
My call to action for you is to look at your life and see if there are any areas you can be advocating for yourself. Are there areas of your life that are not living up to your vision? If you can speak up on your behalf and campaign for what you know in your heart is right, I highly suggest you do so. Your story may be different from mine. No matter the outcome, I can promise, if you are clear in your intentions, self advocacy will be an empowering experience.
I shared this story with a classmate of mine. He told me he wrote a letter to a college asked them to consider his rejection. They did reconsider and let him in! Persistence can go a long way!
Let us know in the comments areas of your life that could improve, if only you advocated for yourself!
Sometimes we can try self advocacy and still be disappointed. Perhaps, a rejection has led you into a tail spin and you could use some self compassion, click here for 5 Tips to Manifest Self Compassion.
By Alé Cardinalle | LMSW Candidate NYU 2019 |