As good as success

November 12, 2010

Last night, in an attempt to soothe myself after getting turned down from another job, I ran across this quote:

“Disappointment, when it involves neither shame nor loss, is as good as success; for it supplies as many images to the mind, and as many topics to the tongue.” -Samuel Johnson

Yes, I found it by Googling “disappointment quotes.”  Point is, I rather liked this one not because it particularly made me feel better, but because I found it to be true.  My disappointment at losing the possibility of this job did make me feel like writing.

So, yesterday I found out that I didn’t get the job at the Environmental Justice League of Rhode Island, the non-profit that I’m on the Board of, at which I volunteer an awful lot of time, and with whom I’ve been involved for over two years.  This job application process was unlike any other I’ve done, mostly because I am so close to the organization, and friends with the Executive Director/hirer.

From the beginning, I admit, there was a part of me that was disappointed they didn’t just ask me to fill the position instead of putting out a call for applications.  Of course, the other half of me was thrilled that the organization would get the opportunity to bring on board the greatest community organizer they could find.  But I really thought it made sense for me to work there: I’ve been involved in most all of their campaigns, I know the community and many of the stakeholders, and one of my main projects would be the Community Environmental College, which I created and directed this past summer.

They did interview me, though, and I thought it went pretty well, but it did make me aware of what my shortcomings are in relation to this job: because I just finished college, worked two jobs for a year each, and then went to grad school, I don’t have experience leading a campaign or doing community organizing for a significant amount of time or in a way that sees a campaign through start to finish.  It’s not really my fault–I’m young, and I’ve just been collecting experiences the best I can, but there it is.  The person they hired is WAY overqualified… not only does he have many years of community organizing experience, but also he’s been working at the Alliance for Climate Education, so he’ll be able to bring a whole set of useful skills to the Community Environmental College.  My disappointment lightened significantly when I found out who had been granted the position.

But still.  I felt this extra sting because I had been holding on to this thought the whole time that even if I couldn’t get hired ANYWHERE else, at least my home organization would take me.  And when, in the end, they didn’t hire me, I felt a little like I’d been kicked out of the family.  Actually, what it really felt like was getting broken up with… because my friend was telling me, in the parking lot behind the UEL, after I’d just driven down to Providence to help her load up her car.   I felt a little like Ben Folds thinking “Give me my money back, you …..”

Of course, in the end, it’s fine.  I am happy that the EJ League will have someone that will help their organization flourish.  Maybe my future job will actually pay more than this one (which was a pitiful salary).  I still care deeply about environmental justice in Providence, and I want to stay on the Board.  So, I’ll move on.

I leave everyone with this Tina Fey quote I heard this morning, as she talked about her past with improvisation:  “You lose your fear of failing if you improvise a lot, because you mostly fail when you improvise.  And it’s freeing to realize that you failed and you didn’t die.”


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