Five of the most painful words; “unfortunately, your application has been unsuccessful.” Painful not necessarily is the sense of deep, emotional heartbreak. Painful as in that stinging feeling when you pour alcohol to an open wound, the feeling when your teeth creak or get a paper cut.
You keep staring at those five words and let yet another disappointment sink in. That life you had imagined for your self, be it a secure or exciting job, or the university you were planning to go to since you were old enough to care about further education, all shatters into a million bloodied pieces of glass. Perhaps you shed a tear or two. Perhaps, you give in to the urge to punch a wall.
Once calm is restored, you move into phase two of the rejection process; you find yourself wondering what went wrong? Was it something you said? Could your wording have been more sophisticated? Was it the interview? Were you wearing too much/not enough makeup? Maybe a button of your shirt was undone? Or was it because simply, you were not good enough? Someone else was better than you. Smarter than you, more charismatic, more educated, experienced.
Luckily, I am here to tell you that it was not your fault. It was not your fault you didn’t get into that university; get that dreamy internship or coffee barista job – at this totally instagrammable vegan café. It could be that you did not try hard enough. It could be that it was just not meant to be. Or, it could be that the real problem lies much, much deeper than that.
I believe we live in a time where skills, passion and hard work no longer translate into success like our parents always told us. I believe we live in a time where the most crooked smile, charming rhetoric, most fortunate, valuable connection or even just being at right place at the right time will land you a seat on the success train. Be lucky enough to pop out of a woman’s body who is well off, and you’ve just multiplied your opportunities and open doors in life.
With seven billion breathing souls on this planet, the competition has become fierce. Rules and processes have become more complicated, while the qualifications and requirements are becoming increasingly insurmountable. Eventually, we become conditioned to hate each other. Reaching out a helping hand translates into less success for us whereas the hands of the powerful; those are the hands we ought to get on our knees and kiss.
We become so obsessed with our individual journey to the top that we often turn the blind eye to the people and things that need our genuine care and attention. We will also gladly forget the suffering that our climb to the top may bring to others – come on, how many times have you found yourself in the position of having to stretch your personal code of ethics in order to take that step further?
Is this really the world that we want ourselves, our loved ones, our fellow human beings, and future generations to live in? Once, I asked my father why did we move out of Greece and he told me that he did not want me or my younger sibling to grow up in a world where you have to take devious shortcuts or fight for stealthy connections – also known as kissing other people’s backsides – in order to succeed.
Unfortunately, the world that my father described, finds its coastline way farther than he chooses to admit. In fact, you are most likely breathing its corrupt air at this very moment.
The cycle needs breaking. We need to replace the condescending ‘unfortunately’s’ with more helping hands, the crooked smiles with bona fide ones, the backside-kissing with backside-bumping. For the first time in history, the GDP does not necessarily translate into better living standards anyway – even though the wealthiest 1% would like you to think otherwise. Most likely, you have been indoctrinated into living a pre-designed life with pre-designed dreams, carefully planned by others for you. And most likely it is your fault that the world is still crooked. All it takes is looking that coastline in the eye and dipping your feet into the unknown waters.
Journalism student with a multicultural background and a special interest in politics, environmental and societal issues.
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