Thursday, January 25, 2007

I am Not the Next American Idol

A recurring theme on this blog is self validation and the resulting need to lessen the dependency on validation from others, also known as the reflected sense of self.

Job hunting is one of those perfect testing grounds for self validation. You run into it when you choose to apply. You run into it when the interviewer fires off questions that put you on the spot. You really get tested when you're faced with rejection.

This morning, I found out that I was out of the running for the job for which I took the multiple multiple choice exam last week. I had a gut feeling that this was the case when I didn't receive a followup call from the recruiter and he didn't respond to a followup e-mail. I connected with him today via phone, and he told me that they were looking for someone in the 90th percentile or better. I told him that I understood their selectivity and thanked him for the opportunity.

For about 10 - 15 minutes after the call, I had to struggle getting a hold of myself mentally. The old mental track that plays when I run into big disappointments was flipping on, and the feelings of inadequacy and anxiety were beginning to bubble up. These were things I didn't need to have going into a phone interview this evening and an all-day on site interview next week. In the past, the only way I could counteract this spiral was to rationalize that the potential employer was using the wrong criteria to make their decisions.

I then recalled Julia Grey's writings on heroism.
The Heroic You is defined from within, by examining your own reality, not by comparison to other people.

So you don't say to yourself, "I'm okay because other people are worse." But you also don't say, "I'm terrible because other people are so much better."

I realized that I needed to stop playing the "I'm so unqualified" and "Those who don't validate me are idiots" tapes. These are not the ways of a hero. They are the actions of an American Idol reject.

And with that, I put the mirror down and move on.
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