It is rejections’ season.
We all know that nobody gets everything s/he applies for, and that rejection is part of the game. Jobs, grants, articles, books: everything we do is highly scrutinised by others, and the chances of rejection are going higher. That’s it.
During the last months, I’ve been trying to figure out strategies to cope with rejections. Of course, some rejections hurt more than others. In the age of precariousness and casualisation, job and grant rejections can hurt quite hard -especially because in the 90% of cases, you won’t received any feedback about why your application was rejected. This leaves you completely blind, speculating the reasons why you were not shortlisted. Ok, we all know the reason: other candidates were a better fit. I get that. But still, in your head the only thing you can think of is: what’s wrong with me?
I have tried to rationalise the problem. I (try to) remember that, at the end, the only job that matters is the one you get. I (try to) think about the other things that I have accomplished. I really try not to compare myself to others. I keep applying.
But the thing that really comforts me and leaves me in a good, optimist mood, is a chat with my academic friends -with my friends who also happen to be academics.* These brilliant, creative, hilarious people who make me see what is important here. I’m not going to lie, in these chats there is lot of what in Spanish we call “mal de muchos, consuelo de tontos” (literally: misfortune of many, the fool’s consolation). Knowing that even the people we admire is going through the same difficulties alleviates imposter syndrome and feelings of guilt.
Most important, they always help me to open my eyes. They remember me why I do what I do -why it is important, why I love it. Almost inevitable, what starts with complaints ends with sharing new ideas: this bit of the research we finally understood, our new project or the next step. Little by little, our conversation goes from jobs to work.
This is very liberating. It motivates me a lot. At the same time , it gives me room to think about other ways in which I could continue writing if the academic plan fails. I’m still quite unsure about my chances on writing outside academia -public history, public engagement, consultancy in humanities, etc. don’t really exist as a thing in Spain, and I don’t think I’d be able to do it here as non-native speaker. But who knows. My friends allow me to speculate without having a plan.
That’s the good thing about having academic friends. We care about each other. We help each other. In the context of precariousness and casualisation, this is precisely what we need.
*María & Leti: I love you.