I received the rejection e-mail while eating a portobello, pepper, and goat cheese sandwich in a little underground deli in downtown Chattanooga. We had planned our reunion weeks ago–two childhood friends and myself. We had it in our heads that we were going to roller-blade on the river walk in downtown Chattanooga—three regular 90’s kids digging out old blades and elbow pads with reminiscent glee. And then, over lunch, I found myself wishing I didn’t own an I-phone. Smart phones make bad news too easily accessible.
Last Monday morning I went to the first interview I have had in almost a year. It seemed like the perfect job. I had applied, they had called me in right away, and though I wasn’t naive to the reality that I might not receive it—I wished my expectation and reality into being. In my mind, I was already moving into the office. I would wear my red skirt with my white blouse and I’d come home on top of the world because I would have finally arrived. Instead, I got an automatic email reply.
While you clearly have a lot to offer, we have to pick the most qualified candidate for the position. We have offered the position to another candidate and they have gladly accepted.
The trouble with expectation is that it’s not reality. And sometimes–a lot of the time–those emails are going to come. People are going to make you feel like you’ll never be good enough, qualified enough, or smart enough. It’s going to rain when the forecast called for sunshine. Everyone is going to get sick on a family vacation. And you know, that’s okay. Because that just means something else gets to fill the place of those lofty expectations you had. Something better than your expectations.
Today, I sat and cried over a plate of cheese covered portobello mushrooms. It sounds silly. It’s just a job. But as a twenty-something year old who labored four years in college and has spent countless hours filling out job applications–I wanted it to be the job.
I told my friends that I was simply ready for life to begin. As soon as the words slipped off my lips, I realized that in that very moment–I was living life. And that life had begun long ago.
It began when he first saw me and knew me in my mother’s womb. And then I screeched that first breath, a whole four weeks early on a warm September day. And life was there when we were all introduced–shy little skinny girls, who would one day be a band of sisters. And I was living life today, laughing in the grass in a pair of goofy looking overalls, two life long friends throwing the frisbee nearby.
My expectations were not fulfilled today. My reality won’t have any significant changes anytime soon. But as the hand of a life long friend reached out across the table for mine, I realized that my reality in that moment was so much richer than any job or career I might be able to attain. So, instead of waiting for life to begin, I want to start looking at the life growing all around me. And thanking God for every second of it. Because these are days, once gone, I’ll never be able to get back. So why not live it up and rollerblade?