Recently my child asked whether I thought he should apply for something that he wanted – a role at school. I said yes.
Then he asked whether he should apply for a range of things, some of which he didn’t really want, in case he didn’t get picked for the role he really wanted?
No, I said. Apply for the thing that you want, because then you’re focused on that, which gives you more chance of getting it. Always put Plan A before Plan B, because EVEN if you fail, at least people know what you want. You’ve opened up an honest conversation so people can help you.
Meanwhile, I saw something that I wanted.
‘Are you going to apply for it?’ asked my son.
‘Um, ummmmmbbbb buhhrrrr…’ I said. Because the thing that I want is out of reach; I’m very unlikely to be successful and, frankly, I’m not in the mood for rejection right now. But OBVIOUSLY I couldn’t say no, so I applied. I know already that it’s not going to go well, but it’s a chance to show my sons that failure is usually harmless. What will happen? A bunch of people will see my application, roll their eyes, and turf it into the bin (cringe). Someone will have to let me know that it’s been rejected (a bit more cringe) – and then we can all move on.
Still there are times when it’s a good idea to throw yourself at something, whether it’s hopeless or not. Partly because it’s never 100% hopeless, but mostly because how can we teach our children to be resilient if we ourselves collapse at the thought of being turned down? And if we don’t apply, aren’t we somehow rejecting ourselves? At least I didn’t do that.
I’ll have to just face the big, wet fish-slap when it comes, but even though I hate courting rejection, I’d do it again. Yey for giving myself a tiny chance! Even better, my child took his own chances, succeeded, and came away beaming with the role that he wanted. A lovely “gold dust” moment for both of us.
While he’s glowing, I’m still in the cringe-hole, limbering up to show my children “how to handle failure”.
Wish me luck. Send me gifs. Remind me that it will all be fine.
[Update – no, I didn’t get what I wanted – and in fact withdrew. It was a volunteer role that I’d already been offered (without applying) and accepted delightedly in 2015, but then they changed their mind and withdrew it without incident or explanation. 3 years later I could still feel the disappointment, so reapplying was an exercise in self-flagellation, and of no benefit to my son. Therefore I stepped back and both of the other 2 candidates were accepted. I’d never been rejected for a role like this before, or actually any role; I can only assume they didn’t like me. Stepping away felt very sad, again, and I worried about sending the wrong message to my children who, I hope, will apply for the roles they want in life. However, it was the right decision; preserve me from being where I’m not wanted, life is far too short and there are far too many other places to be 😊]