As much as I wish it wasn’t so, in life, there are times when you are quite simply rejected. Whether it be a college or scholarship letter starting off with the words, “We regret to inform you…”, no phone call after the important job interview, or even just the simplest, solid no in response to something you’ve dreamed of, rejection exists, and it can be completely crushing. Last week, all of the details of the internship I’d worked so hard to secure fell into place, clicking together and allowing me to finally relax and be excited. The next morning, I got the text saying that it wasn’t happening.
Today, I received word that I would find out whether the full-tuition scholarship I’d applied for would be awarded to me. After encouraging words from my family about how I probably would get it, how I was smart or talented or brilliant, I was feeling pretty good about opening the page and seeing the results. The dreaded words looked, to me, like they were bolded, underlined, highlighted in neon yellow ink. We regret to inform you that, while your application was extremely competitive and well-written, we are unable to select you as a finalist for the scholarship. Because it wasn’t my top choice school (to be honest, I haven’t even toured there yet), I didn’t have that initial burst of nausea or feeling of my heart leaping into my throat. I didn’t cry, I didn’t feel sad; I simply texted my mom to let her know that I hadn’t gotten it. I figured I was fine.
But then, an hour later, sitting on the couch after getting the sweetie I was babysitting to sleep, a feeling of dread wrapped its tendrils around my mind, my heart, my eyes. If I wasn’t good enough for that
scholarship, how would I be good enough to even be accepted to my first-choice school, my dream school? How would I be good enough to flourish in college, to be competitive among my peers? I realize now that even a meaningless rejection is enough to hurt one’s pride, damage self-esteem, promote a negative self image, and of course, create feelings of anxiety and doubt that are hard to shake.
So, what can you do about it?
Take a couple of deep breaths, even if you already seem to be breathing normally. You can take back the control you lost through a situation like rejection.
As silly as it may sound, sit down in front of a notebook, a scrap of paper, the back of a receipt, your laptop. Look at the white space before you. Fill it with words, with accomplishments and achievements, with all of your positive traits and characteristics, with what makes you YOU and what makes you happy. Fill the page. It might be hard to do this at first, but write down everything that comes to mind, and soon you’ll be overflowing. Read the list, and acknowledge how amazing you are.
If you can, get your hands on data. In the beginning stages of dealing with rejection, this will sting; seeing the numbers might make you feel worse. Once you’ve calmed yourself a little, or had some time to process, look at the numbers. Perhaps it’s the college acceptance rate, or the number of applicants in comparison to the number of awards or spots. Maybe it’s just the number of votes you had. Look at your odds, and then forget about them. Look at all the numbers that compose resumes and applications. Look at GPA’s, and scores, and think about the metaphorical (or literal) blood, sweat, and tears that went into creating such a strong display. That was YOU. No one else can compare with what you’ve done, and you should feel proud.
Do something you love!
Refocus your attention on a positive thing. I’ll do something with my sister; go to lunch with my grandmother, have a movie night with my mom. I’ll throw my heart and soul into baking, or read a book and slip into someone else’s world for a bit. I’ll put on some upbeat music, loud, so that the music reverberates under my feet, and sing and dance like it’s the last thing I’ll ever do. If the timing is right, I’ll head to the beach with my family and let the worries slide into the ocean, off my back, and spend a sunny afternoon collecting shells and playing with my pup in the sand. Whatever you love, dedicate some serious time to it and relish in how fun life can be. Remember that there is more than whatever you didn’t get.
Everything happens for a reason. While I was devastated because my internship didn’t work out (trust me, many tears were shed), today was the first day of the new internship. And, if I’m being honest, I wouldn’t trade it for anything and am looking forward to every minute of it. I’m closer to home, I’m able to do more, and I’ve already bonded with so many of the people I work with. It’s fascinating. So, keep the faith. Things will turn out to be unexpectedly beautiful.
Don’t stress too much.
I feel like a hypocrite even writing that, but, I’m working on it. I often find my resting face after something such as a rejection to be one of furrowed brows and frowning. Lean on those around you, and if you feel like your support network is lacking, there’s always someone who is ready to listen. You are not alone in this. You will be okay.
Do you have any strategies to move past a crushing rejection?