Think back to your first major rejection. I remember mine like it was yesterday. His name was Louie. We were both five-years-old, and as far as I was concerned at that time, he was the man of my dreams. One day on the playground, I decided to do the sensible thing and ask him if he liked me. I remember he paused for a good long while, as though he were pondering the meaning of existence. Finally, after much deliberation, he looked into my eyes and said something that I wasn’t expecting: “I like…the White Ranger.”
I should mention that Louie was very into Power Rangers at the time, and to his credit, the White Ranger was definitely one of the cooler rangers. Also, it’s entirely possible that he didn’t understand the question, but still, I took this as a significant dismissal of my affections. I cried all through nap time.
Rejection can be brutal. As we struggle through adulthood, it seems to creep up in more and more areas of our lives, professionally and socially. The truth is we don’t like hearing the word “no.” We want doors to be open, and we want our efforts to be met with validation. And when that doesn’t happen, it can be painful. Because of the negative emotions we tend to associate with being rejected, we often go to great lengths to avoid it. Instead of applying for that new job or talking to that new friend or trying that new dance move, it can be tempting to allow our fear of being turned down to stop us in our tracks.
Sure, it feels like a punch in the gut, but rejection isn’t actually the worst thing in the world. Today we have several tips for how to deal with rejection (and why it’s actually a good thing!).
Rejection teaches you…about rejection
I know this sounds completely obvious, but go with me on this one. Like the air we breathe and the space that we occupy, rejection is just an inevitable part of life. Regardless of how much we want to avoid it, it exists, so the key is to become skilled in dealing with it. Like any skill in this world, the more we practice being rejected, the better we become at facing it. So why not embrace it? It just means that the next time it comes around, you’ll be less terrified.
Rejection means you’re trying
You’ve heard the sayings: “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” Or “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” However you want to think about it — shots or moons or whatever — the point is this: you might fail, sure, but the greater tragedy would be never making the attempt. When we let our fear win, we miss out on all of the benefits that come with trying new things. As we’ve already established, rejection is built into the natural order of existence, so if you are experiencing it a lot, GOOD. That’s how you know with certainty that you are putting yourself out there, and that, in and of itself, is a success. Go you!
Rejection gives you the chance to better yourself
This is the least fun reason, so let’s get it over with quickly. Sometimes we get rejected for inconsequential reasons – a personality clash, a misunderstanding, etc. If that’s the case, brush yourself off and move on. But other times, we get rejected because there is something to be learned. Rejection sometimes means that the thing you are attempting isn’t something you are ready for just yet. That’s okay. Take a beat and think about how you can grow.
Rejection gives you the chance to prove ‘em wrong
A guy named Walt was fired from his newspaper job because he lacked imagination…and then he founded The Walt Disney Company. A receptionist named JK was let go because she spent her workday writing stories…and then she released a book series about a wizard child named Harry Potter. These are examples of people who were rejected for the very traits for which they became legendary, and hey, who knows, maybe the same thing is happening to you right now. The truth is this: there are people who will reject you with little understanding of what you are capable of. When this happens, rejection should become fuel for you. Use it to energize and propel you to work harder towards your ambitions. How good will it feel to do the very thing that you were told you could not do?
Rejection often sends you somewhere better
The reason that rejection feels so personal is because it stands against our expectations. On some level, we feel that we know exactly what we need to succeed and be happy in this world, and when that desire isn’t met, it can be crushing. But what we often fail to realize is that there is a world out there with a multitude of possibilities. You may have a door slammed in your face today, but tomorrow could be the day where a better, way cooler door is opened for you that you didn’t even realize existed. Rejection could very well be the best thing that ever happened to you.