Until this year, I had done what needed to be done, the way they said it should be done and with the people they said it should be done with. I do not know if that was as a result of being the first born or just a disposition to take the safest path. What I know is that this gap year changed all of that. From putting myself out here as a digital content creator to seeking alternate career paths as a quantity surveyor; I wilfully put myself at the risk of rejection. I had not fathomed how painful rejection would feel until those rejection emails came through – very unpleasant! However, I don’t want the fear of rejection to prevent me from living out my purpose. Therefore, I am aim to get better at handling it and wanted to share these seven ways that have been working.
- Acknowledge the pain
Usually my preferred response is to go on with life as if nothing happened (which rarely ever works) but I think it is important to feel the pain because something did happen. And I feel like the pain seems to finds a way out anyway from physical pain “my head hurts” to sadness “I just wanna die” to anger “to hell with them” to apathy “I don’t care” to pride “am too good for them anyway” to despair “am so done with this” to envy “must be nice”… I also think there is no need to rush the process as long as you can tell when feeling the pain turns into wallowing in it. So acknowledge the pain for as long as you need (not want) it will sting and hurt but you will be okay, hopefully✨
2. Accept comfort
Every time I shared a screenshot of a rejection mail on my family whatsapp group, my sisters would come to my room and be super nice for no reason. That would annoy me because it was precisely why I texted the message so that we could all just go on with life as if nothing happened. However, letting them stick around and hearing their encouraging messages and praises helped me feel better. It’s like them being there for me reminded me that I belonged somewhere where I felt loved and accepted. Family and friends weren’t a job or a program that I really wanted but they were a place of love where I mattered which beats either for me. I am also learning to extend comfort to myself. To acknowledge that rejection is an injury to my being that deserves tending to so I am allowed to take a break and soothe all the parts that ache in the ways I know how.
3. Express gratitude
Waaah! Si I dislike those gratitude emails that have to follow rejection emails. No matter the embellishments what it feels like I am saying is, “thank you so much for rejecting me, I have caught no feelings at all, no time or energy was wasted and I would love to go through this process with you again in case of any other opportunities”. Hehe, yeah I am a sore loser but thanks to maturity😜 I am seeing the ways in which I am also a winner. Like the personal statement which helped me reflect on my aspirations and that interview that showed me how the organisations in my area of interest work. Despite the rejection, I was left with lessons and experiences that are worthy of gratitude.
4. Celebrate yourself
I know this is what people do when they get accepted so it is a bit counterintuitive but why not? Especially when you consider the courage, hard work and dedication it took to put yourself out there. The interview prep, the research work, the feedback sessions, the conquering of imposter syndrome… You bet on yourself! You made the pots! You conquered the fear of failure to try! You ventured and lost but you still ventured!! I feel like celebrating all these about yourself encourages you to keep trying.
5. Reinforce your self worth
One’s self-worth and self-confidence can really take a beating after a rejection (speaking from experience 🙃). And then that’s also when the devil is working extra to remind you of all your short comings. I think it is important to depersonalise the rejection – to not make it entirely about your capabilities or lack thereof. I found that considering the needs of that organisation or even the fact that we are in a pandemic helps. Also to remember that your value as a human being is intrinsic, despite what capitalism says. Then name all the things you are good at – big and small. Journal them and speak them out as affirmations. If you are too beaten to do so find people or past experiences that can do that for you.
Rejection creates an opportunity for you to step back and restrategise. Ask yourself questions like: Am I knocking on the right doors for me? Am I knocking in the best way? Am I knocking at the best times? Am I aware that I might already be inside the house?
7. Believe that a door will open
One of the lessons at 25 that I shared was, “Breathe! What is for you, will find you!”. I believe that if a door closes another one (usually a better one) ALWAYS opens. I have my past experiences, my friends’ testimonies and God’s word to back this up. This belief encourages me to never tire because the door I knock will be opened, the questions I ask will be answered and whatever I seek I shall find
In conclusion, I hope we all keep trying in spite of rejection. Apply for that job or internship, slide into that DM, explore that passion, start that business …just shoot all the shots because you never know.
P.S: A door opened for me as I was writing this blog post. I will be sharing with the Chai Geng for September’s Newsletter. So sign up below if you haven’t!