I didn’t get picked.
I applied for a leadership opportunity through work, and I didn’t get picked.
I stay pretty protected by only trying things I think will bring me success. I have never applied for a job I didn’t think I would get. I don’t bowl or play mini-golf, because I can’t live up to my own standard, and I sure as heck don’t put myself out there knowing there is a good chance I’ll feel any kind of “feeling”.
When I found out I didn’t get picked, I actually read the email twice because I was in disbelief. It’s not that I felt I should have been picked, I just never prepared myself for disappointment. It wasn’t about the program. I wasn’t about my own leadership abilities. It was about not being picked. It echoed over and over in my mind. I didn’t get picked. They didn’t want me. They didn’t think I was enough. My application was not enough. I am not enough. I’m not enough of a teacher, leader, or person. The internal dialogue was cutting deep.
The depth of the pain was an indicator that there was something else here. Isn’t there always something else? As children, emotion is clean. About the age of 3 or 4 we are told how we should feel, and respond, and act when it comes to our feelings. As adults we are left with a lifetime of emotion to untangle and heal.
After crying and feeling the depth of my sadness, I knew this was a biggie.
I considered when in my life I had not been picked. What was my earliest memory of not being picked?
There it was. I could feel the weight in my chest. I saw myself running barefoot as the rain poured down, feet pounding on the concrete trying to process the unknown. At the time I literally ran from the information. I wanted to feel the concrete, the cold, the wet. I didn’t want to feel the emotion.
In 9th grade my parents got divorced, and my mom didn’t fight for custody. This was my 13 year old version of reality. The actual reality is that my parents made the choice that not only was the least disruptive for my life, but also the one I would have made at the time. As as an adult today this makes complete sense, but at 13 I wasn’t picked.
As an adult I still feel the sting of this wound, but I can also heal it. I don’t need my parents, I don’t need to go back to relive that experience, and I don’t need someone else to pick me.
I get to pick me.
Once I’d identified where the wounding came from, I considered my 13 year old self. What did she need at that time? What would she need to hear? What could I give that part of myself right now? What could I tell her?
I did a thing. I laid in bed crying for that little girl who didn’t get picked. I audibly spoke to her. I told her that she was worthy of being picked. That it wasn’t her fault. That not being picked was not about her, but about the adults in her life. I told her that I picked her. I told her that she was worthy and it wasn’t fair for her to carry this wounding for all this time. We cried, my 13 year old self and my 43 year old self. Then, the work was in believing it. I chose to believe my own words as truth. At 43 I can do this. At 13, I didn’t understand.
And you know what, I understand at a deep soul level that this pain at 43 was ready to be healed. I don’t need to be picked by someone else. I choose me. It only took me 30 years, but leading in my own life and choosing me is the greatest leadership I can offer. You get to choose you, too.
We’re in this together.
How can I help?
- Consider the big feelings you are holding.
- Think back to a time in your life that you first felt those feelings.
- How old are you?
- As an adult today, what would you tell yourself at that age? What does she need to hear.
- Now, do it. Say the words, write her a letter, or imagine showing up for her in the way she needed.
- Sit with her, you as an adult and you as a child. Notice how you are feeling as an adult as you give yourself what you needed but did not receive.
- And if you could share your experience, I know it would not only mean so much to me, it would also connect you to every other woman who is working through her big emotions.
After all, we’re in it together.