We are a culture of busy and many people struggle to keep up- on a good day. When your day doesn't go as planned it can have a domino effect on your schedule and leave you feeling frazzled, frustrated or worse.
I am coaching a friend as she searches high and low for a new job. It's been slow going for a number of reasons- as it is for many. The average career change takes 12-18 months (mine took four years). Hurry up and wait indeed! We meet every few months for a mock interview or to talk tips, tricks and strategy. I enjoy working with her; she has a cautious, but positive persistence.
Recently she reached out to schedule a mock interview. Then closer to the date she decided she wasn't prepared and would rather just review strategy. GREAT! I am in full support of knowing your boundaries and doing what feels right. We were confirmed (well, at least in my mind) and then at the last minute she decided she needed a break from "the hunt" and wanted to swap out a coaching session with happy hour.
Um, that is not how this works. This: as in my life, as in our relationship, as in how I expect to be treated. What the what?!!! So not cool.
It was her time but it was my time too and I was disappointed that she didn't take my life into account. I had turned down a date and a movie night with a close friend because I was working. I felt disrespected- but I know that wasn't her intention. Did she feel like she could back out of an appointment because of our personal relationship? I wasn't sure what to think. I've never had anything like this happen before. It was all about me...so much so that I didn't immediately realize that she probably canceled her appointment because her fear was holding her back.
I agreed to a happy hour (twist my arm). In retrospect I am glad I accepted the invite but at the time it felt a little manipulative. We had a chance to talk about the appointment and redefine our relationship. I am confident this won't happen again. Both our personal and professional relationship got pretty real. Don't get me wrong, I love a mean margarita but I am a work hard, play hard type of lady and well, I was in work mode that night. Or I wanted to be anyway. And that was my agenda because I see the process wearing on her; I just want her to get settled in somewhere she is happy. Because I want everyone to be happy with their careers- with every aspect of their lives! The big picture. So I was trying to serve her agenda too. It's a grey area some times.
But the feelings that came with a canceled work appointment paled in comparison to being stood up on a first date. That feels much more personal. Yes, for the first time in 20 odd years of dating I was stood up (right before my birthday no less - ouch). It's hard for me to admit, but I know it happens to the best of the best. I was all gussied up and ready to go- I was just waiting on a text with the exact location. California Casual was new to the area (from California of course hence his nickname) and wanted to take me somewhere special but had blanked on the name of the restaurant when we were making plans a few days earlier.
As I was getting ready to leave for the date he called to explain that earlier in the day he had been summoned out of town for an unexpected meeting. He was just getting out of the worst meeting of his career and wouldn't be able to keep our date. With a stressful day he "kind of forgot" about me, hence why he didn't reach out earlier and give me a little notice. He was extremely sincere but it still hurt.
He forgot about me?
He forgot ME?
I am many things, but not forgettable.
My ego was SO ready to let him have it and be done with him- and our relationship before it had even started. But through my hurt I saw his side of the situation and reluctantly agreed to reschedule after an appropriate amount of pleading. Don't we all deserve a second chance? It's good karma!
But when I hung up the phone I felt so deflated. I didn't feel special. I felt alone. But only briefly until I thought about why I was letting someone who was essentially a STRANGER make me feel bad. Blowing me off wasn't intentional. He was really disappointed that work got in the way. And he had a really shitty day. We've all had those days when nothing seems to go right.
It's easy to be in a good place, to be comfortable in your own skin, until something challenges your sense of self. All to often landing in a dark place can be the default if you don't process your emotions- and choose how you let your feelings influence you.
I couldn't control the situation but I could control my response. With an unexpected free night I focused on planning a dear friend's baby shower instead. I felt productive and was happy to be able to do something so special for my friend. Warm fuzzies all around! Was it the same as a hot date? Not close, but I am in a place where I am perfectly fine flying solo or going out with a sidekick and that in itself feels great- because it wasn't always that way.
And I'm glad I gave him a second chance. When we finally met I found him to be interesting and charming- and a little rough around the edges. Sexy! But from the moment we (finally) met he has worked hard to earn my trust and if anything questionable happens again- peace out California Casual. Two strikes and you are out. Repeated behaviors are called habits and I don't stand for bad habits.
How to move forward when someone lets you down:
1. Set boundaries and communicate your feelings.
When you have your feelings trampled on, take time to feel and process. Why are you upset? Does the other person know how you are feeling? Once the situation is less emotional, reach out to talk about it. Be clear about how you are feeling, how you see the situation from your end, how it impacts the relationship and your expectations going forward. Start with "I feel..." statements so you don't put your friend, date or whomever on the defensive by saying "You made me feel...". They didn't make you feel anything. You are the only one who makes yourself feel bad. If the person you are talking to has their guard up, it won't be a productive conversation and nothing will be accomplished. Worse, it could even backfire and ruin your relationship (or any hope you have of developing one) unless you tread lightly.
2. Let it go.
If you graciously give someone a second chance, do it without conditions. Let go of any negative feelings associated with this situation (I know, easier said than done). Be understanding and forgive- but you don't have to forget. If it was an isolated incident, it's done and over. If not, you may want to asses your relationship and that person's place in your life going forward.
Taking a step back and addressing being blown off- how it feels and how it impacts you- is the best way to handle the situation to ensure a good relationship going forward.
How do you handled being disappointed or feeling let down?
Have you found any strategies that work well?
I'd love to hear from you! Please leave a comment or questions below.