Accepting rejection: How to handle a ‘No.’

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, ┬áthis 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.

 

The anxious person’s guide to patience

Patience is a tricky trait to tackle, and these days, it’s become near impossible. Everything is fast-paced, and everyone seems to be doing the next thing on their list before they even start with the first. You look around you and everyone you know is moving at an incredible pace, seemingly on top of their multi-tasking, and going to bigger and better places. But you feel stuck, caught up where you are with no way out. You can’t figure out how they do it; how do they manage to get everything done? Where do they find the time? More importantly, where does your time go?

The answer lies in anxiety.

What is Anxiety?

Simply put, it’s a friend that comes into your house everyday, finishes all the food in the fridge, and walks out without a single word. They never offer support, they never stick around for a movie, and they never call ahead or say thank you. They just know you because you happen to have a great taste in groceries. From time to time, they’d speak up, but only to let you know that your fridge is lacking. In a situation like that, you’d think it’d be easy to just kick them out, but for some reason, you always find the words dying on your tongue whenever you try. You watch them carry everything out and leave. Once they do, you just slump down in your couch, feeling weak, feeling used, and worrying about replenishing your resources, wondering if you’ll even afford to.

It’s all take, take, and take, until you’ve got nothing to give.

Here’s what anxiety essentially does: It makes your mind work at its full capacity over minimal tasks. It goes on overdrive at the tiniest stimulus, and by the time you’re done doing the most basic activity of the day, it feels as though you’ve already exhausted all your resources. Because anxiety always has you thinking that something else can be done, should be done. You look at the accomplishments of all those around you. “Oh, he’s writing, and he already has ‘x’ words done, I should write today. I’m going to write today.” A few moments later, you come across an advertisement for a course that you saw on the requirements of one job you were applying to. Your mind automatically jumps onto the next thought, and it’s downhill from there. “Oh, okay, so maybe I should apply for this. But there was this other job I had to apply to today, and oh I didn’t take that test. Maybe I should buy that necklace I saw by the testing place. I need to check my bank balance, and set up that account. The bank’s close to this food place, maybe I’ll grab something along the way. Oh, crap, I didn’t exercise today. I have to keep up with that. I was listening to this song when I was exercising the other day. Maybe I should dabble with music at some point, I should read that article about composition. There are courses down at the center, next to the university. Maybe I should get another degree.”

And so, your mind runs through about four years of work in the span of thirty minutes, leaving you feeling drained even though you didn’t move off of the couch. It leaves you feeling late, inadequate and discouraged. Maybe your thoughts don’t stray to these same exact places, but they end up being all over the place, and the conclusion is always the same: You feel awful, and you end up being even less productive.

Now, here’s what you need to know: No matter where you are in life right now, you’re not behind. There are a million things you haven’t done, and you will get to each and every one of them, and then some. You are at the start of your journey, regardless of your age, position, education, lifestyle, etc. It’s the start whenever you want it to be. Patience is difficult, but it can be accomplished through practice.

Here are three steps that can help you train your mind to find patience and hold onto it.

1. Establish a guideline

It could be a daily tasksheet, a weekly tasksheet, or even a monthly tasksheet. Just think of what you would like to accomplish on the short-term, and start there. Everything will come in time, but you can’t get started on everything at the same time. So choose anything: There is no wrong choice. There is no ‘what if I should’ve done this first’, because there is no one right order for how you live your life. Ignore the norms, and ignore society around you, because there are no two people who live their lives in the same way. Be certain that you’re never falling behind, because there is no behind, there is no one set pace. The only guideline you need to follow is the one you establish.

2. Find a balance

There is a difference between working hard and overexerting yourself. Make sure that the guideline is realistic. Categorize your tasks under general themes, and stick to accomplishing those one theme at a time. The excitement is real sometimes, and you should totally take advantage of those moments of inspiration and drive to work, but remember that the burnout is also real. Pacing is your key to control.

3. Things take time

It all seems very fast, but it’s not as furious as you think. Give yourself the time you need to practice, to get it wrong, to learn. No one becomes an expert overnight, even if they seem like they do. Don’t put yourself under an insane amount of pressure, because your body and mind can only handle that for so long before it crashes and you’re back to square one. You have to be strict with yourself when it comes to time. If you finished your tasks for the day, and you feel the drive to do more, don’t. Give yourself a break. Breaks are as important as work. It’s hard at first, especially with anxiety breathing down your back, telling you that you’re never allowed to sit idle. But with time, and with practice, you’ll get used to it, and you’ll feel better.

Anxiety is a parasite, but it’s not one without antidotes. You will not let it get the best of you, and you can still do everything you want to do despite its hold on you. Just take it easy. One step at a time. You don’t need to pace yourself with the world, the world can pace itself with you.

 

Taking a break

It’s important to take a step back and look around you, you’ll find that there is alot to see, and alot more to learn. I’m trying to remember how to relax. It’s a working progress, but I’m getting there.

I’ll be away for a few days, but regular posting will commence soon.

I want to learn how to let go.

Journaling: A meditative exercise

We’ve all seen these journals with calligraphic handwriting, elaborate planning, fantastic pictures and just overall good art. They’re neat, they’re eye-catching, and most of all, they inspire a sense of calmness whenever we look at them. It’s a nice feeling, and we find ourselves wishing that we had the ability to keep a journal as beautiful as that. The good news is that: We all do. Keeping a journal doesn’t have to be as intimidating or as time-consuming as it looks; it’s actually alot simpler than it seems. It’s also extremely helpful.

Here’s the thing about journaling: It┬átakes the edge off.

There are days when it feels as though everything is rapidly building up, and even the smallest of tasks seem like a burden. The idea of getting up to get anything done suddenly feels 10 times as difficult as it should be, and that your frustration with being unable to get the barest minimum out of the way only adds to how horrible the day is going. On days like that, the thought of adding yet another task that requires concentration and organization is nearly impossible. There are some days when I can’t bring myself to even scroll through social media; because even that seems too intense. By the end of these days, however, I always feel like shit. Because I feel like I’ve wasted the whole entire day without accomplishing anything worthwhile, and I spend a good amount of time in bed thinking about how much time I’m wasting throughout my life. By the time I fall asleep it’s late, and when I get up for the next day, I’m tired, and that negativity just seeps into the next morning, and it ends up being a cycle until I manage to find a way to break it, and it always manages to find a way to return. Anyone who struggles with mental illnesses will tell you that they have experienced a variation of that.

I’m not saying that journaling put an end to it, but I’ve been feeling alot better since I started keeping a journal. Writing is therapeutic. You don’t have to be a writer, a poet, an author, etc., to benefit from its effects. All you need to do is to find an empty notebook, preferably one with a design that makes you feel good, and start writing in it. It doesn’t have to follow a pattern, your handwriting doesn’t have to be flawless, and you don’t need to add pictures or aesthetically pleasing doodles to it. All you need to do is write something down. It could be a word, it could be a sentence, it could be a paragraph or an entire page. It could be something you heard that day, your mood, a thought that crossed your mind, or just a run down of how your day went. If you’ve done nothing that day, then that’s what you write down. Just write. Communicate with the journal as though the pages are listening to what you have to say. They’re sitting at the edges of their seats, looking up at you with wide eyes and an encouraging smile.

You can scratch the pages. You can just write ‘AHHHH’ repetitively for a few lines. If you don’t feel like thinking of words, copy something from around you. If you don’t want to jot down letters at all, draw inexplicable lines; put your pen to the paper and just let it guide you without having a concrete direction in your mind. The only rule is: You need to write something everday. Yes, even on those days.

Why does it work?

Sometimes there is so much anger and pain inside of you; there is frustration, there is stress, basically a giant cloud of negative energy hanging out in your skull. The only way to get rid of it is to let it, or a part of it, out. That can be done through talking to someone about it, except that that is not always an available option. There might not be anyone around, you might not be up for talking to the ones that are, and even if you are up for talking, you might not have the first idea of how to start. And, once more, because that’s just how shitty brains can be when they want to be, that just adds to the whole gigantic clusterfuck of it. That’s when the role of the journal comes in. Writing things down in the journal, either physically writing them down with a pen or typing them out on an online platform, acts like a form of pain relief. You see your pain reflected in words, you see your problems seep out onto the pages, and in that small act, a part of their effect on you is transferred onto the journal. The second benefit of journaling is that it does carry the status of a daily task without the crushing weight. When you finish your journal entry of the day, it will feel like crossing an item off of your to-do list; like getting shit done. Even if it is the only thing you do that day, you won’t totally feel like the whole day has gone by without accomplishing anything.

Try it, just try to maintain one for a few weeks, and you will start to notice a difference. It won’t be anything major, this is not a one-stop-fix kind of situation, but I guarantee that it will atleast make things a little better. It will make the weight you’re carrying everyday a little less heavier. Think of it as a form of self-care, because that’s exactly what it is.

This worked for me and several other people I know that struggle with mental health issues, and I believe it might work for you too if you give it a shot.

Taking a wrong turn, and sticking with it

When it comes to writing, I never know how to start something. I’m always so excited about getting to the bottom of the story, the nitty gritty stuff, and I always get discouraged by the set-up. So, I’m going to go ahead and skip the set-up for this blog, and get right down to it. I want to become a writer, that’s pretty much the gist of it. I’ve been writing since I was 6 years old, and I’ve read more books than I could possibly remember, so it makes sense that I should become a writer, right? I mean, it shouldn’t be debatable. Somewhere along the line, however, life got in the way. I’m not sure exactly what happened, maybe I got lazy, or maybe I got scared, or maybe it’s a little bit of both. You see, all my life, I focused on just getting the best out of academia. Because I thought if I excelled in school, then everything else will fall into place. That’s why, after I finished highschool, a.k.a the point where I should have chosen a field that has to do with creative writing, storytelling or poetry, I wasn’t sure what to do. I felt lost, I couldn’t make a decision, and trying to think about it gave me anxiety to the point where I just wanted to choose anything to get this feeling to stop. I chose Engineering, because I was told it would be the perfect fit for someone who graduated with honors, because I excelled in its subjects. I went with it, even though it never felt right for me. After the first year, it was time to choose which are of Engineering I wanted to major in. Again, I was lost. Everyone around me was recommending Architecture, but I’ve never in my life been interested in Architecture. They, once more, told me that it would be a great fit for me. There’s a great job market for it, and as a female, it’s the most appropriate field of Engineering where people are more likely to respect me. It was a bunch of bullshit, but I bought it hook, line and sinker. Because I didn’t want to think for myself, because once more, I was ridden with an anxiety that rendered me incapable of making a decision and just wanting to get it over with.

I remember my first week in Architecture school. I ran out of class, dry-heaving, crying, and having a full-blown panic attack, because I couldn’t do it. This was not what I wanted, this is not what I was good at, I couldn’t get it done. I was angry and scared and dead-set on getting out of it. Except, at the end of the day, I sat down again with people, and once more I let people talk me out of changing course. Over the next four years of Architectural Engineering, I’ve experienced some of the most miserable moments of my life. It wasn’t all related to university, but my major always felt like it was weighing down on me, like it was further establishing an image of me that I couldn’t identify with, that felt unauthentic. I stuck with it, though, no matter how hard it got for me to keep up. Because I really never had the talent for it, I never had the passion for it, but I kept pushing myself. I kept trying until I got it right. Now, I’m a fresh graduate; I graduated with honors in a major I hated.

I sat down with the same people again after I graduated. And the same people are telling me that I should continue in the academic field, just because I have been managing to do well with it. That it would be stupid to turn my back on it. And maybe they’re right, maybe I’m going to wake up in a few years from now and realize that I’m an idiot and that I ruined my own life. But I have tried the listening to others gig, the doing what seems the most logical gig, and it left me with conflict, anxiety, self-esteem issues, and a constant sense of fear and confusion. I’m not sure what I’m going to do, but I know that I’m going to write. I’m going to write and keep writing, until I get my voice out there, because I know I have something to say and I know that I feel at my best when I’m writing down words.

So, consider this my introduction into the world as a writer. As who I really want to be. I don’t know for sure how things will go, because money is a thing, and like anyone else, I want to afford living and make something of myself. Maybe I’ll end up taking different career paths, I might end up going a completely different direction, but I will never stop writing. And I’m not going to put writing on the backburner again. I’m done being afraid.