How to Handle Rejection


Yesterday, I got a text from our nursing agency. “Well, I spoke with [Nurse]. She is not interested in picking up any time with Catherine.”

What? I felt like I’d been punched in the gut. The nurse had told me the night prior at her orientation that she’d start on Sunday. I had liked her. Based on her smiles and conversation with Catherine and responses, I thought she liked us and would be a great fit. She even only lives ten minutes away from us.

After reading the text, I felt a feeling swelling inside of me that I didn’t really understand. It started in the pit of my stomach and grew out to my shoulders. It was black and hot and then it coiled itself up back into the pit of my stomach where it sat like a hard rock. I had felt the feeling a few months ago when I got let go from my job – much more intensely in that situation, of course. The feeling had the same character, though. It was the feeling of rejection.


All I wanted to know was why she didn’t want the case. Had I done something wrong? My mind raced through as much of the orientation as I could remember. I’d tried a new format and used a checklist. There is simply so much to remember to tell nurses about Catherine and we’ve oriented so many nurses. Even Sarah thought the checklist was a good idea. And so did the nurse. She said it was very helpful and asked me to leave her a copy when she started. Had I asked her something that offended her? Was the house too messy? Did she not like Catherine? How could you not like Catherine? She’d told me she thought Sarah was very smart, so I didn’t think it had anything to do with her. Could she not say yes, because she hadn’t met Brian? He was at class and we were eager to get to meet her so we’d decided to orient any way. I had told her how much he loves Catherine and what a great dad he is and that he was the “strong and silent type.” Did that cause her concern?

Why? Why didn’t she want to work with us?

I texted the agency back and when I didn’t hear back quickly enough, I called. The coordinator didn’t have any good reasons. “She said it was too much for her.” What does that even mean? I pushed a little and heard that Catherine was too heavy. “It’s one lift. I can run downstairs and lift her so she doesn’t have to do it if that’s all that’s standing in the way.” Our coordinator said she’d call and see if that would help. In the pit of my stomach – the same place the rejection feeling came from – I knew it wouldn’t. We’d been rejected for some unknown reason. And sure enough, the coordinator let me know a short time later that the nurse had turned off her phone.

I could continue to fight it and wrestle for a satisfying answer to the “Why?” I could try to convince the nurse that we were a good place to work. I’d even made that a point on the checklist – that we care about the nurses and want them to feel comfortable so they could watch TV, use our WiFi, put food in the fridge, use the microwave – and to let us know if they needed anything at all. The reality was that it didn’t matter. I’d learned that several months ago when the rejection stung more intensely. It never matters why because if you have to talk someone into it, it’s never really acceptance. The rejection always wins. And truthfully, rejection is almost always about the person doing the rejection rather than the one being rejected. It never feels that way though. Never.

So, when Brian got home, I told him what had happened. “Oh well,” he said. “Oh well?” That’s all he could say after my body was feeling all this energy spinning around? Granted, I knew some of that energy was connected to the more significant rejection I’d felt earlier in the summer. But seriously…. “Oh well?!”

Waking up this morning after some good sleep and seeing the sunshine, I realized he was right. “Oh” is the statement of recognition. Acknowledgement. Matter of fact. And “well” is the statement of what will be in time. It will be well. There is no space for the why. It ceases to exist or even matter. So, yes, rejection happens. The why doesn’t matter. And it will be well… in time.

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