Three Rejections


Rejections feel awful.

It doesn’t matter if it’s something small, like not hearing back from a potential romantic match on Tinder, or large, like being passed over for an important job. What makes rejection so upsetting, so intolerable, is the possibility that it indicates something really, really wrong with us – our skills and abilities, or our worthiness and lovability.

After a rejection, I want to feel better but sometimes recoil at well-meaning expressions of sympathy. Certain situations are painful because it hurts to admit how badly we wanted something, and even small slights can be upsetting if they shake our sense of self-worth or confidence. Rejections are made worse by the fact that we rarely discuss or publicize them, heightening the sense that they are shameful and dark. The failures themselves feel awful; the only thing more embarrassing is sharing them with others. (read more…)

The Threat — and Thrill — of Stereotype


For a time, I was often the only woman in a room full of men. This was a previous job where I essentially ran a non-profit that rated roofing materials. Our members, stakeholders and board conformed to your likely stereotypes about roofers: they were almost all men, two or three times my age, mainly with pot bellies. I was young (twenty five) and female with little roofing experience. They saw me essentially as a secretary, and on several occasions expressed a great deal of surprise when I actually understood technical issues. I played sweet and friendly with everyone, using this as a way in to get things done. When our board chairman’s term was up, for example, I approached the candidate that I thought would be best for the organization and talked him into running. I gathered a few supporters for him, and the board elected him unanimously, thinking the whole thing had been their idea. (read more…)

The Creativity Myth

This is terrible - 1994

I have a distinct memory of going through my journals and notebooks when I was 10 or 11 and grading my own artwork; I gave almost everything an F. “This is terrible,” I scrawled across one page with the beginnings of a sketch of a minaret, my intense frustration apparent in the big, sharp-edged letters and the dark, hard lines of the pencil. I’ve done art all of my life. My parents and my brother are all artists, and creative expression is fundamental part of my family’s culture. Although I often got encouraging feedback about my work growing up, I was never satisfied with it. I had grand visions of what I would create and was often disappointed with the reality of my ability.

(read more…)

A Fall in the Trees

Forest of Beech Trees_gustav klimt

On a cold Friday in February five years ago, I took the day off to go skiing with my friend Brian. We went to our usual spot, a resort in northern Vermont, and spent the morning skiing off-piste. After lunch, we headed down a trail that was new to us; it had a mild grade, and the trees weren’t as dense as some of the other trails we had been on that day. It was a more relaxing ski down and we moved along quickly, carving between the trees, stumps, and other features. About halfway down the trail, one of my skis sheared to the wrong side of a small stump. I fell forward, rather slowly and unremarkably, and then felt a very strange pain in my knee. It was quick and fierce, and I remember audibly moaning when I finally came to a stop. I was still clicked in to both skis. (read more…)

Can People Change?


It’s a new year!

We hope you had a great winter holiday with your friends and family. In addition to excessive amounts of food and beverage intake, this is also a time of year for reflection. Which means we’ve all been giving lots of thought (too much thought?) to the ways we want and plan to change (or want and plan for others to).

I’ve been interested in the question of whether, how, and why people change for a long time. And let me admit right up front that I have a bias: I absolutely believe that people are capable of changing. This is something I’ve seen in my personal life and in my relationships. Still, the circumstances of lasting change remain a bit mysterious. I wanted to talk to someone with a unique perspective on this, so I turned to Craig dos Santos. Craig is an interesting case because he strongly believes people can and do change – but says willpower has nothing to do with it. (read more…)