Clicking Refresh: Life as Told by My Inbox

Clicking Refresh: Life as Told by My Inbox

Refreshing my inbox won’t make an awaited email appear any faster. I know this. Of course I know this. But that certainly doesn’t stop me from clicking that little circular arrow every thirty seconds. Waiting for good news—in this case, a coveted job offer—is excruciating, and if constantly reloading my Gmail makes it marginally more tolerable, then I will continue refreshing all day long.

I click around to pass the time, distractedly mining for interesting or forgotten messages to occupy my thoughts until news arrives. Years of correspondence start to light up my screen. I’ve got a Drafts folder full of things I never said and a Deleted folder of things I wish I never said. My Sent folder is full of “miss you” and “thank you” and “hope to hear back from you soon!” Chains of love letters across oceans. Christmas lists from years past. Promises to catch up with old friends.

I return to my Inbox and dig into the little world contained within it. It documents my flaws and failings. Unread daily updates from TheSkimm and Politico nag me to follow the news more consistently and thoroughly. Pure Barre and SoulCycle beg me to come back and “build my best bod yet!!!” Student loan payment reminders make me cringe every time they inevitably, incessantly appear. And, looming over everything, the rejections from companies I adore for jobs I would have died to have. Their presence stands as a reminder of that infuriating rollercoaster of desperate hope at the sight of that name in your inbox and the sudden gut-punch of disappointment when you discover that they’re “going with another candidate.” All of these minor annoyances and devastating letdowns line up like a firing squad in neat rows down my screen.

But between these messages are little glimmers that suddenly make me smile and remind me that I’m more than the jobs I didn’t get. The New York Public Library writes to tell me that the book I ordered has arrived. A note from the National Organization for Women reminds me of my volunteering shift this weekend. Venmo charges, while an unwelcome hit to my dismal bank account, chronicle the nights out with friends that I wouldn’t trade for anything. And, among it all, more job opportunities awaiting my application or HR representatives writing to schedule an interview. Chances to try again and get a little bit closer to that “Congratulations!” email I keep hoping to see as I refresh over and over again.

My inbox is me at my best and at my worst. Disorganized, busy, and equal parts struggle and success. And as I continue to reload the page, I don’t delete all of that—the messiness and memories remain. But with each click, I feel a little surge of hope. Not just for that long-awaited email, but for all I’ve been and done and continue to be, contained on my little screen.


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