At this point in my life, I’ve lost track of the number of times that I’ve been rejected.
It’s a pretty humbling experience being rejected for the things that you want in your life: love, jobs, opportunities and more.
At a moment in history when it feels like people are pushing back from the notion that they even could be rejected from what they want, I would like to argue that the experience of being rejected is even more important than ever.
Rejection makes you tough.
Rejection gives you balls.
Not the real ones. The metaphorical balls of a person who has to learn how to dig in deeper, consider doing something a different way, or re-imagine how to reach goals that they hope to achieve because they failed the first time.
Do you remember when you experienced your first epic rejection?
For many people, it could be the experience of getting a rejection letter from the college that you had to get into. For me, it was Northwestern in Chicago. I actually was accepted by the other six colleges that I applied to. However, I got a big fat “no” from Northwestern, and it hurt.
Did that rejection end my world? No. I worked with the cards that I was dealt and ended up going to a university in the same conference and receiving an excellent education. I don’t wonder about “what if?” Because that ship has sailed.
Don’t focus on the “what if?”
Many people who experience rejection focus on the “what if?”
They ask themselves “what if I had married that guy/girl?” Well, you didn’t. You experienced something else instead.
Asking yourself “what if I had gone to Colombia instead of Australia?” is pointless. You didn’t.
And there’s nothing wrong with that.
In fact, I would love to share some of the moments of rejection that I’ve experienced. Time to get real.
- I auditioned for the Denver Broncos Cheerleading squad two or three times. One of those times I made it to the second or third round (it has been awhile) I didn’t get it.
- I auditioned for the Denver Nuggets dance squad. I was rocking it out when the girl next to me fell, so I helped her get up. She got up and kept dancing. She moved forward to the next round. I didn’t.
- I remember wanting to date this one guy who just didn’t seem to be that into me. We hooked up. Ahem. He still didn’t want to date me.
- I’ve pitched a session or panel to a conference that I attend yearly. I still haven’t had a session picked. Plus, I’ve never won an award from that community and I still continue to attend and smile.
These experiences have taught me to manage these situations with short and long-term solutions. In the short-term, it’s perfectly fine to be devastated about an outcome that hasn’t worked out the way that you expected.
But it doesn’t help to sit around asking yourself “what if?” all the time. You’ll be much better off in the long run if you acknowledge the experiences you have had and dwell less on the rejection.
Grit and resilience through rejection.
Rejection is basically the other side of the reality that not everything will go your way. That’s a really good thing.
Suck it up buttercup, life doesn’t always work the way you want it to.
But that doesn’t mean you give up. It’s important to embrace strategies that will help you cope during those moments when you get kicked in the pants by life.
Keep things in perspective. Most people in the U.S. experience First World Problem rejections. We get rejected for the types of things that are beyond the dreams of most people. At the end of the day, you still have running water, electricity, and clothes on your back.
Understand that this is just one moment in time. Other opportunities to be accepted or rejected will continue to present themselves to you each and every day.
Embrace the experience, even if it’s painful. There is an old saying, “It’s better to have loved and lost than to never have loved before.” Rejection basically is an experience that people have when they put themselves out there and open themselves to the reality of a well-lived life.
Rejection opens new paths
I don’t regret falling in love with past loves that didn’t work out.
I am now able to look back at different relationships that didn’t work out and acknowledge my part in the breakdown of each relationship.
I’m also able to reflect on most of those relationships and remember the good and the bad without feeling upset about how those relationships ended. With time I’ve learned that every relationship has a season and that the ones that didn’t work weren’t meant to be.
I think of the jobs that I didn’t get and am amazed by how happy I am now that they didn’t work out.
Rejection has made me a much more empathetic, relatable, and thoughtful person. I’m sure if everything had always worked the way that I wanted it to when rejection finally knocked at my door I would have been devastated and ill-equipped to deal with it.
Finally, if you’re having a hard time dealing with rejection, check out the following celebrity stories: Halle Berry, Oprah Winfrey, Steve Jobs, and Jim Lee.
Remember, rejection offers a person two different opportunities: to become dejected or create fuel for the “next” thing.
What will you decide to do the next time you’re rejected?