It happened. My dream job was posted on LinkedIn. And my heart sank. It had everything. Strategy. Planning. Collaboration. And yet, I dreaded applying.

This was not the first time my potential dream job had been posted in the past six months. But each previous time I had felt a spark of excitement. A buzz. A surge of delight. These jobs sounded perfect. Felt right. I could see myself in the role, killing it.

And then would come the rejection. Thank you for applying. However, we had several highly qualified candidates and have chosen to pursue another candidate who we feel is best qualified. (A poorly written response email, but my expectations are low in that regard).

No one debates the difficulty of a job search. There is a plethora of content about the challenges to mental health when faced with prolonged unemployment. In the current environment, where a global pandemic has led to unprecedented economic uncertainty, the internet is overflowing with articles and blogs, much like this one, underscoring the toll this is taking (check out #unemployment  on LinkedIn).

One of my favorite reads is an April 27, 2020, Harvard Business Review article by Herminia Ibarra entitled Reinventing Your Career in the time of Coronavirus. Ms. Ibarra is an authority on leadership and career development and the Charles Handy Professor of Organizational Behavior at London Business School.

Since discovering this article I have referred back to it several times. Rereading Ms. Ibarra’s recommendations is like refilling my optimism tank. She reminds me that I am pursuing lots of selves – blogger, strategist, podcaster, COO, consultant, novelist, stay-at-home-mom, encourages me to embrace liminality –“existing betwixt and between”, legitimizes the many projects I’ve created for myself, and guides my networking efforts.

Aside from Ms. Ibarra’s wisdom, how does one remain optimistic when surrounded by reminders that your mental health is going to take a beating? How does a real person dealing with real rejection in the real world actually cope?

Optimism. My suggestion is to refill our optimism tanks early and often. Which takes us back, full circle, to tackling life one day at a time and finding joy whenever and wherever possible.

Some ways I filled my optimism tank this week:

  • I finally switched out the winter duvet in our bedroom for this bright and cheery pattern.
  • Once again, I sat on my porch listening to music to find just the right song to fit this mood. (Rodney Atkins’ If You’re Going Through Hell)
  • I made my family eat blackberry shortbread squares (from Martha Stewart’s Dinner at Home) on my favorite dessert plates instead of paper towels.
  • I stayed up late finishing a book –the first time since March, 2020, that I was engrossed enough to do so. It was the 3rd book in Darynda Jones’ Charley Davidson series.

And, of course, I wrote this blog post. Thanks for helping me refill my optimism tank!

If you’re going through hell, keep on moving, face that fire, walk right through it, you might get out before the devil even knows you’re there

Rodney Atkins, If You’re Going Through Hell

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