Let’s face it, at the heart of it, no one likes to hear the word no. Before we get any deeper into this post, it’s imperative to note that this does not apply to situations of consent. This post is not about relationships, personal space, or personal boundaries. This post is about the so-called ‘professional’ no. This post is about dealing with rejections in the path to becoming who you want to be. Now that we’ve cleared that one up, we can get right to it.
We’ve all been there. Whether it’s job applications, grant applications, raises, funds, publishing, recording, sponsorship, sport teams, etc… We’ve all applied to something, reached out for something, put ourselves out there, and received that no. It always comes in the form of a ‘we’re sorry to inform you’ or ‘i’m afraid’ or ‘it saddens me to say’, and somehow, these sentences are more painful than just a hard no. Because you’ve been conditioned all your lives to recognize these sentences as just a way of dressing up rejection, of softening the blow, and your mind automatically translates them to failures. Why is that?
It’s because you see countless examples of people who make it in movies, stories, or even real life who manage to say the right thing, do the right thing, provide the right thing, and immediately amaze their audience. There’s a part of you that thinks your application will draw someone’s attention, because it’s unique, because you’re unique, and you know you have what it takes. You can imagine the person on the other side of the screen reading over it and going ‘Oh shit, yes, this is the one, this is what we’ve been looking for.’ And no matter how many times you tell yourself that no one ever gets accepted for the first job they apply to, and that all the greats have received a thousand ‘No’s before their first ‘Yes’, it still hurts. Because you feel like you’re lacking. You feel like you could have done more, given more. And you start to question your own worth and abilities. You start to wonder whether or not you’re cut out for whatever it is you’re trying to achieve. It’s a slippery slope from there, so the second you feel yourself getting these thoughts, push the brakes. Stop. Inhale. Exhale. And remember this:
A rejection isn’t a reflection of who you are or what you do. There are so many elements that factor into you not getting the opportunity you’re after, and very little of them actually have to do with your character or abilities. It may not be the right time, it may be something specific that they have in mind that they can’t in good conscious write in words, or it may be just someone who didn’t click with you.
So what now?
How can you use rejection to your own advantage? You can always learn from the circumstances of your rejection. Evaluate the opportunity you were reaching for, and find out what you could do to bolster your chances of getting it. Improve yourself constantly. Try to read more, write more, reach out to people who are in the same field you aspire to join and learn from their experiences. Do not sit still, and do not give up, no matter how many times you’re told that you’re just ‘not the right fit’ for whatever it is you’re seeking. And always remember that there’s no such thing as a right thing. You go after what you want, no matter how difficult or farfetched it seems, and don’t stop even if they tell you that it’d be better if you do.
You can get there. At your own pace and on your own terms. Just don’t let rejection discourage you. I know it’s hard enough to find motivation as it is, I know it’s hard enough to get up and try as it is, without the added pressures of rejection, but it doesn’t have to get to you. You’re entitled to feeling sad and frustrated about it, but get up, don’t linger in it. It’s hard. It’s hard for me to imagine doing this even as I write it, but I will, and so will you.
You’ll get there. One day. And all these rejections will seem like a million miles away when you’re at the finish-line. They’re just small and inconsequential events in the grand timeline of your life, and they don’t define you, your talent, your mind or your worth.
Keep moving forward.