I was turned down for another job today. That’s the second one this week.

There’s an emotion that is hard to describe, but I’ll do my best.

When you wake up in the morning, the kids are chaotic and hungry. Remote learning starts in an hour. You are incessantly making food for these little mouths, while peering over at the percolation that promises to level out the insanity. It’s really all you want, just a sip, before you return to the fray of parenting.

After a swig of caffeinated bliss, the kids are plugged into their terminals, eerily predictive of what their lives will likely be when they’re my age. Screens, Zoom meetings, digital learning. Will there even be a college for them to attend? Why did I open these college funds if socialism is inevitable? Free everything … except expression.

It’s relatively quiet, except for the tiny voices and one-sided conversations chattering through the house. For my kinders, this is all they know right now. The first cup of joe is almost empty, so you sit down to check emails. You want to jump on social media, but you only have a few minutes.

Then you see it. An email from the staffing agency. You’ve had six open job applications, five after yesterday’s rejection. And this right here is the emotion…

You’ve been rejected for countless jobs since 2018. You’re educated. You meet their qualifications. You’re a veteran. You’re a military spouse. You’re a hard worker. And yet…

You don’t open the email right away. You stare at it, mouthing the words of the previous email, remembering the deflation of your heart, your mind. Questioning your motives. Remembering the interviews like a movie projected onto a sheet that’s nailed to the wall. You analyze every sentence, every interaction, your appearance. We worry so much about appearance these days. From the clothes that cover our maligned bodies, to the pigment of our largest organ.

You know you’re going to open the email. You have to. You’ve committed to an outcome when you submitted the application months before. You know what it’s going to say. Or do you? It’s like Schroedinger’s Email: Until you’ve opened and read the email, you have both been hired and been rejected. You want to see the former, but you’re fully expecting the latter.

That moment before you click the email, the nervous palpitations thumping through your ears betray the emotional upheaval in your soul. You want a job so bad. You’ve been locked in the house with six kids for most of the year. Your savings account is almost empty, yet you refuse to use your last $20 so you can at least say you have some money. Moreover, you’ve been a stay-at-home parent for almost seven years, and you are beyond burned out. You want a life outside of those you’ve created. You want an existence that is only yours, like a double-agent, only not as dangerous or sexy.

That moment. That is the emotion I’m talking about. It ends as soon as the email pops up onto the screen. A familiar name, a grandiloquent opening paragraph, offers an ominous sense of hope. You’re smiling. They’ve made you feel good about yourself, your qualifications, your resume. You’re impressive.

Unfortunately, they’ve gone in another direction.

Thank you so much for applying to change the world with our company. It was an absolute pleasure to meet you, and we hope you’ll apply for other open positions within our company.

I’m a writer. I want to be a writer. Your other open positions require 1000+ years of experience, which I don’t have yet. But soon. This was a junior role. A writer role. A role that likely required writing emails to other writers, telling them how awesome they are, but the company went in a different direction. Those emails.

I could write those emails. I seem to collect them.