by Caitlin Brady
Some people say you reap what you sow, and when it comes to professional rejection, that’s not just self-indulgent wound licking – it’s also a love of cool tunes! I’ve assembled this disappointment playlist for fun, not because I’ve ever been in this situation. Everything’s great with me! That’s why I drove my mom’s car to your house in the middle of the afternoon to see if you were free for a midweek smoothie break and laid on the horn for three minutes when you didn’t answer your phone. Get the fuck in here!
- Boulevard of Broken Dreams
This song, from the ass-crack of the Pop 2000 Sirius XM channel, was the first thing that came on after I got rejected for an amazing job. And they say there’s no God! This is like the warm hand towel to start the multi-course self-pity meal.
- You Can’t Always Get What You Want
The Rolling Stones
Think of the choral beginning as clouds parting and angels divinely crying for you to suck it up.
- Don’t You (Forget About Me)
Fist pump in the air and scream hey hey hey hey and you will forget you ever flubbed anything. This is also great for writing that bittersweet follow up email asking someone to “remember you next time.”
- I’m Not Okay
My Chemical Romance
It’s no secret I was emo in high school and still am – I’m making a playlist right now. There’s nothing like yelling, “I’m not o-fucking-kay” to a random dog walker in the park, though you will have to live with the guilt of scaring an innocent dachshund.
- Don’t Turn Around
Ace of Base
This is great for when you’re working on cover letters and abuzz with resurgent anxiety. Bonus points if it plays while you’re in a Starbucks bathroom dancing alone in front of an automatic hand dryer. That’s a healing thing that lots of people definitely do.
- I Want it That Way
The Backstreet Boys
It doesn’t matter how you want it, it’s just the way it is. The goatee, trench coat way.
- I Started a Joke
The darkest song on this playlist by far, suggested by my brother, an 18-year-old deli worker. Frankly though, this is dark. Would I call your life a dumpster fire? I dunno. Potato – Po-dumpsterfire.
- Personal Jesus
But hey, night is darkest before the dawn, right? Get a little faith—in yourself! Sure the breathing interlude might recall how you hyperventilated when the reply you waited three weeks for began with “unfortunately,” but if your self-esteem dips too low, just imagine you’re an erotic shirtless cowboy wearing leather fringe and riding a tiny mechanical pony in the desert. Don’t just reach out and touch faith, boop it on the nose.
When an opportunity I hope for doesn’t work out, I fantasize primarily about two things: a life of glamorized crime, or dancing so well they change their minds and take me back. Nothing says maturity like miming for an invisible gang to back you up.
- My Favorite Mistake
I would be remiss if Sheryl weren’t on here, since there’s no Paula Cole, Sarah McLachlan or Alanis Morisette. Sure you stumbled, but now you have golden ringlets, leather pants, and the benefit of hindsight.
- You Got Another Thing Coming
For when you ran out of that interview like “nailed it!”
- I’ve Got to Use My imagination
Gladys Knight & the Pips
If you imagine anything, imagine goddess Gladys asking you to evolve beyond the sad, nasty human bed-monster you’ve become.
- Dancing on My Own
Bleached hair is optional but also strongly encouraged at this stage. Is CVS still open?
- You Gotta Be
So this is playing in CVS and it’s totally appropriate. You game to try this Chateau Diana Riesling, “Candy Babee”?
- Gotta Get Thru This
For drunkenly brainstorming brilliant ideas on the couch and writing lists that will be illegible in the morning.
- Never Gonna Break My Stride
A trippy, solid keyboard banger about resilience, displacement, and laundry?
- Head Like a Hole
Nine Inch Nails
Do you need capitalism or does capitalism need you? Like, think about it.
Tears for Fears
In violent times, you shouldn’t have to sell your soul. Truth is, you probably will, but we’re allowed to temporarily lament this fact.
Bun B ft. T-Pain
There’s always freelancing– you may get fifteen 1099’s come tax season, but you’ll probably be a trillionaire by then anyway. Also, clutch uvula reference.
- Super Freak
For when you’ve finally made peace with yourself. Even if no one can take you home to mother, that is OKAY. You are special down to your toenails!
- All I Do Is Win
At this stage, you’ve blacked out and entered the void— physics and the rules of the universe no longer apply to you. Embrace everything flawed and petrifying about yourself and fucking win.
Special thanks to the friends, siblings, and bystanders who contributed
Caitlin Brady is an MFA candidate at Columbia University. She is from Texas and she writes fiction and humor.