The grass we tread on isn’t always as green as it appears, but that’s something we don’t ever realize until we get a real dose of reality, usually occurring when rejection hits. Rejection sucks regardless of where it’s coming from – relationships, school applications, and the job-hunting process. The one that hits me hardest always comes professionally…rejection from a job I applied for or a promotion.
Sure, I’ve gone through several roles in my life, but that unquestionably came with a myriad of rejection from several others. I distinctly remember the pain of being rejected from my current company – at the time, I was really passionate about getting my foot into fashion merchandising so I spent a lot of time tweaking my resume, cover letter, and researching the company and the job. I submitted my application thinking it was golden, but soon after, I received the rejection e-mail. The first thoughts that surfaced were “Why? How could they not want me?” and then it morphed into an angry self-conversation – “You’re not good enough, you don’t have what it takes, why did you bother?” But here I am years later in the field. Although I’m still harsh on myself in my career, I’ve surely learned a thing or two about coping with rejection and I’m sure these steps can be applied to other parts of your life so let’s talk.
#1 Let it sink.
The obvious first step to tackling rejection is acceptance. It happens. Your emotions are pretty much uncontrollable during this stage so take a few days to absorb them and then let them out whether it’s through a hard kickboxing session at the gym or eating ice cream and crying. If you never let the emotions out, you’ll just be stuck dwelling on them.
Once you’ve accepted it, think about what you could have done better or differently and work on doing just that. If you have the option, seek feedback directly. You may even learn that it had nothing to do with you personally. Also, people tend to be most disappointed when there’s an expectation so now would be a great time to review those.
#3 Be grateful.
Not many people get to experience what you do so be thankful it even happened. Also, thank the person who rejected you for the wonderful opportunity because you learned something new about yourself and this only makes you better the next time around.
#4 Move on.
An old friend once said to me, “We subjugate risk by always moving forward despite the possibility of failure” and I truly believe this applies to rejection as well. Keep those applications going despite the risk of being rejected.
#5 Get Accepted.
Keep up with #4 and eventually you’ll win. It’s important because victory reigns and rebounds you exponentially faster than rejection can shoot you down.
#6 Repeat & Grow.
The more you take on rejection, the more you learn not to take it personally; instead, you grow from it, let it fuel you, motivate you, and make you YOU. It teaches you to become fearless and confident, so pursue it.
It’s hard to see through the fog when you’re in the moment, but I can assure you that through experience, not getting what you want is always a blessing in disguise. It’s one of those things where you have to connect the dots backwards as noted by Steve Jobs so trust the process.