How Rejection Taught me to Reassess My ‘Accomplishments’ for the New Year
By Alexis J
As we rang in 2020, our social media timelines were filled with everyone’s “biggest flexes” as people listed off what they’ve accomplished through the year. Every turn of the year — and in this case turn of a decade — pushes us to reflect on what goals we’ve reached and what our plans are to level up over the next 12 months. Usually this is a very easy task for me, but at the end of 2019, I was having some trouble.
The last few years I had put a lot of stock into my education and/or career. I counted milestones as things like: Did I land a new job? Did I get that degree? Did I start or complete that project? Did I get a new car, apartment, etc.
In 2019, none of that happened.
In 2015 I moved to a new city to start graduate school. In 2016 I got a foot in the door of my field. I graduated with my Master’s degree in 2017 and started working in my field full-time. I moved again and got another new job at the top of 2018, and again at the end of that year.
I never settled.
The job I’m currently is the first one I’ve kept for over 10 months. And I say KEPT because the millennial mentality in me has always said, “If you don’t like the gig, find another one.”
And I always did.
In three years I moved four times for four different opportunities until I ended up back in my hometown. So naturally I would look back at the year and say I was able to accomplish A B and C through the lens of work. Through my creativity. “I started a job. I started a blog. I started a podcast. I got a promotion,” and so on.
But in 2019 I was completely still.
I’ve been at my job for a year and 3 months now. Naturally I began applying out around the year mark, as most millennials do, and I had a few bites. I ended up going through a rigorous interview process with the job of my dreams in New York City. So here I was again, about to be up and out for an exciting new opportunity. A new step in my career. A new accomplishment to brag about. I went through four interviews and two tests over a three month period and was almost certain I would get the job. I was telling friends and family I may be moving soon, looking for apartments, saving money for moving costs.
After a series of communication over those three months, I never heard back … I was devastated.
This isn’t the first job I was ever turned down for, of course, but I couldn’t figure out why this one crushed me so much. I finished out the year in the same job I had at the beginning. It’s a blessing to even be employed, and it wasn’t like I even hated my job.
I just always wanted more. I always want to say I’ve accomplished more.
So when talking to my therapist about reflecting on 2019, she asked me what I accomplished and for the first time, I couldn’t just quickly list things right away. I scrolled through my social media, asking myself “What DID I do this year?”
I couldn’t think of anything.
And that’s when she had to remind me that accomplishments aren’t always loud. Accomplishments aren’t always intentional. They aren’t always about things you can see or brag or boast about. Accomplishments can be internal. They can be personal. They are about growth in ALL areas.
So I had to think.
2019 was the first year I had to sit still. I had to focus on other areas of my life outside of my career. I wasn’t distracted by the ever-changing lifestyle that my career afforded me. I had to face myself, my relationships, my past. I did all of that without even realizing. So after taking a hard look in the mirror, putting “materialistic” things aside, I came up with a TON of things I accomplished that I didn’t even mean to, that I stumbled upon in 2019:
- I set boundaries for myself in certain relationships that I used to let drain me.
- I became a better sister, daughter, and aunt. I was present. I was able to be there for major moments that I missed when I was in other cities worried about work.
- I got better at saving money and more financially responsible (ironically enough me thinking I was moving to NY really made me disciplined in saving money and changed my entire spending habits.)
- I closed up an old chapter of my life that used to trigger me.
- I became a better girlfriend.
- I was more present in my friendships
Once I took a hard look at things from a new perspective, I realized that there was a long list of personal stuff I needed to work on before I would even be ready to move again and face a new city, a new challenge. Had I gotten that job without these lessons, I wouldn’t have been ready. I would not have been able to show up as my best self.
I say all this to say as you see people posting their “biggest flexes” or things they accomplished in 2019, don’t be discouraged if your list looks a little different. Being alive is an accomplishment in itself. No matter what, you survived the year.
You survived the decade.
I encourage you to think about your personal, internal wins. Things you wouldn’t normally post about, brag about, tweet about. Things you can’t take a photo of or capture. Things you can’t even explain in a caption.
What did you do for YOU in 2019? What did you do for others?
The crazy thing is one of the moments I was looking forward to the most was simply announcing I got the job. Getting the congrats, the pats on the back, the likes. Because that’s what social media culture will do to you — have you seeking approval and admiration.
But now I see that sharing THIS story was way more important. This lesson was way more important to learn.
So I ask you the same question looking ahead into 2020: What will you accomplish this year?
Happy New Year!