"I previously interned at Google and talked to many people there. Some interns and official employees got rejected everywhere else except for Google. I think I'm experiencing the same thing for now" asked a candidate. I answered the following on Quora. Forbes published it .
That year after a decade, rejection finally pushed me too far. I bought a one way ticket and travelled 22 countries to get away from my past. Many interesting women became my friends along the way. And I wondered "why doesn't this happen at home?"
Finally Seattle became my new home. In its solitude, I found and chatted with a most beautiful person near San Francisco on a dating site. I made small talk with her and asked her on a date; she jokingly agreed because it was so unlikely.
Then I called her one day to say "I'm interviewing near San Francisco, go on a date with me". She accepted, and she liked me in person. Then I went back to Seattle. Nothing quite seemed the same. A week later, I called her and said "I'll split the plane ticket with you if you fly this time." She flew to see me in Seattle.
The third time I called her, I said "I'm moving to San Francisco."
Six years later, I asked her why she accepted to marry me. She said "the other guy was too busy feeling sorry for himself. You asked."
I used to be the other guy.
A lot of companies rejected me just after graduation. Other students turned their internships or higher GPAs into offers within three months. Invariably in the middle of most interviews I would stumble on the answer to at least one question that would cost me all my confidence.
The last unexplainable rejection I've ever had in my career happened six months after graduation. I had failed too many interviews and didn't think I could shoot for more than $15 an hour. My coffin of a used car that I had owned for a decade begrudgingly made the long trip to the interview one hour outside the city. I waited for the previous candidate's interview to be over, and saw him leave straight for the parking.
The lady at the interview asked me "where do you want to be in 5 years?" and I said "It's my dream to start a company." Within 30 minutes into the interview, having answered all her questions, I knew it was a "No". More resigned than ever, I shook her hand, nodded and forced a smile at her "we'll let you know". The pity in her eyes were like the last two arrows finally piercing my heart with their unspoken rejection.
As I was following the footsteps of the previous candidate towards the door, for the first time ever I turned around, and with the conviction of a man who no longer had any pride to lose, asked "listen, I know it's a No, but I've looked for a while and I can't figure out where I'm going wrong. Can you tell me what skill I'm missing for this job?"
She said these unforgettable words: "You're more qualified than my boss, and your ambitions are greater than what this job could ever provide. Why aren't you aiming much higher?" A long silence took over as I stared in the air at the words she had just spoken. A gigantic lightbulb crashed through the ceiling, hung above my head, and turned on, brightening the room.
I drove back home in my $500 car from that far away office. And that poor car died that day in the garage, never to start again.
Within a week, all the recruiters who were delivering "no" messages were calling in to gently disappoint me. I let every single one of them know "I appreciate your time. Just wanted to let you know that I'm no longer available for junior positions. I will only consider jobs that respect my qualifications." Two of them called me a week later with new mid-level opportunities. I interviewed and impressed both hiring managers, especially with my self-acceptance. They went to bidding war against each other, and I ended up in a prestigious downtown company getting paid double what I had asked for just two weeks earlier.
Two years later, I afforded the travels I mentioned, that led me eventually to the date in San Francisco. Two years after our first date (five years after my long post-graduation unemployment stretch), I paid for the wedding with my first three paychecks at Google.
Shortly afterwards, I fulfilled the promise to my career angel of rejection by starting my own company. Be careful where you tell people you want to be in five years, you just might end up there, more or less, in five years!
The man without self-acceptance doesn't endure the long road to meet his pre-occupied personal angel. He who has accepted himself will in the end discover the angel within.