I had a dream the that I was asked to emcee a beauty pageant at the last minute and I was horribly unprepared. As you can imagine, it was not pretty (haha). At least I was not a contestant. I’d much rather feel unprepared than come in last in a beauty pageant.
Actually, I’ve had far worse: Being picked last for the kickball team. Not that I blame any of those kids (how DID they always get to be the ones picking?) since if I saw myself back then, I wouldn’t pick me either. Skinny and terrified, I looked like I’d run away screaming from the ball if it came at me. It didn’t take long though for them to realize that I was actually a Bad Ass kickball player. I was never picked last again.
So I learned a valuable lesson at an impressionable age: sometimes we’re judged based on little or wrong information. Therefore, I should not take these decisions personally.
A similar lesson was learned when I moved from Texas to California in the 80’s. In Texas, I was completely invisible, especially to the opposite sex. In California, that completely changed, and in fact, I was suddenly of some interest to the males there. There was nothing magically more interesting/attractive/relevant about me when I crossed the border into California. It was the Caucasian/blonde/blue beauty standards that changed, not me. Perception is subjective and relative, and not for me to take as some personal indictment.
So many life decisions are made for us in this manner by others. School admissions, prospective employers, prospective mates or friends, scholarship or grant reviewers, award committees, publishers, and yes, beauty pageants are comprised of people making decisions and judgments about us based on incomplete, biased, or even inaccurate, information.
Yet we take them so personally. “I’m such a failure; I’m unwanted; I’m unattractive; I’m inferior; I’m not good enough”. At the same time, we may also dismiss the positive outcomes as having nothing to do with us. “I got lucky; The others were losers; He’s only interested in me because of …; They felt sorry for me.” Either way, we find yet one more way to engage in destructive, self-limiting self-talk.
There are certainly situations where I was not selected because I wasn’t as good, as qualified, as accomplished, as pretty as the chosen one. But most of the time, I feel that if I’m not selected, it’s truly because I was not a good fit for what they were looking for, and the outcome was as it should’ve been.
I wrote previously about how romantic chemistry has to do with finding someone who replicates your childhood wounds. Therefore, if a male is not interested in me that way, it’s partially because we are not a good fit. He is not the yin to my emotional yang or visa versa. Not a good fit, and not because I’m unattractive or flawed. It also does not mean that I give up on trying to look my best when I leave the house or work to make myself a more interesting person.
Employers similarly are looking for a person who provides the skill set needed and fits their workplace culture. For example, I may be a shy person who prefers to write, but they may need someone outgoing who is a good talker. A poor skill and personality fit means it would be difficult for me to be successful there. Not a good fit, and not because I’m incompetent. It also does not mean that I quit trying to build my skill set.
A school who does not want to admit me may be looking primarily for the best academic talent and my strengths are… elsewhere. If academics aren’t my strongest suit, I would struggle in an environment that was so academically competitive. Not a good fit, and not because I’m stupid. It also doesn’t mean I stop trying to bring up my grades or hone my other talents.
Or instead of continuing to improve myself, I can just believe these decisions confirm that I’m a worthless human being, feel sorry for myself, and go on a chocolate binge.
I look back on the forks in the road of my life and sometimes wonder, “What if…?” I don’t really know if the universe, fate, karma, or God leads us down certain paths. However, I do know that the cumulative Yes and No decisions made on my behalf have led me to where I am now, and that place is pretty awesome. Things have worked out pretty well despite the multitude of No’s and rejections, because there have also been plenty of Yes’s and acceptances too. I don’t take those rejections personally any more than I take any of the successes too seriously.
I do believe that things “work out” in the end. I also believe that the odds for a good outcome are vastly improved if I approach the process with a positive, open-minded attitude and am dedicated to finding the silver lining in a setback. So the next time I’m asked to emcee a beauty pageant unprepared, I’ll be grateful that I’m asked only to employ my communication, positivity and relational talents on the fly, not something difficult like walking without falling while sporting 4 inch heels.