If there’s one thing I didn’t anticipate about my twenties, it’s the frequent (heck, it sometimes feels like non-stop) rejection. From jobs to relationships, our egos take a real knock.
In our student days we feel invincible, with few responsibilities and a whole world of possibilities ahead of us. I don’t know about you but I was pretty quickly knocked down a peg or two as soon as I started on my career search.
But as much as it sucks, I believe it’s not all bad and there’s a lot to be learnt from rejection. Here’s how to cope if you find yourself dismissed, spurned, rebuffed or turned-down in any aspect of your life.
Don’t take it personally
OK, easier said than done right? But bare with me. Being rejected feels like the most personal thing in the world, but it’s not. When it comes to jobs, usually it’s because someone else has something the company would benefit from, not that you are lacking. And when it comes to relationships? It’s not because there is something wrong with you: it’s because the situation just doesn’t work.
Derren Brown says in his book Happy that the stem of most of our unhappiness is from stories we craft in our own heads, which is totally true. Take this example: you don’t get the job you applied for. You tell yourself you’re not good enough for the role, that no one ever gives you a break. You start to dwell on the ‘fact’ it feels like you’re never going to achieve anything. But all this is based on assumptions by you. The reality? You applied for a job and didn’t get it. That’s it. It sucks, but that’s it.
Rejection doesn’t mean you’re not worthy. Remind yourself what being turned down really means, and don’t let it fester in your mind and feed on your insecurities.
Your vibe attracts your tribe
When you feel like you are constantly facing rejection it’s hard to keep your spirits up, but allowing negative energy to take over only breeds more bad vibes. Fact: people are attracted to positive people.
Over the past two years since graduating I think I’ve finally cracked the Big Secret when it comes to getting a job – people hire people they like. That’s why networking is such a ‘thing’. Focus on what you can do for other people rather than what they can do for you and I promise things will fall into place eventually.
But what about relationship or friendship rejection? Don’t lose your shit. Keep the upper hand. Don’t drunk call them at 3am; don’t stalk their social media. And definitely, definitely don’t get your friends to stalk the new best friend’s/ girlfriend’s social media.
Don’t get bitter; get better
When people give you criticism it’s hard to take. I get it. But constructive criticism is the most useful gift anyone can give you. Take every let down as an opportunity to improve.
When I feel like I’m not getting anywhere, I like to think of all the famous people who didn’t find their break until later in life. Stephen King used to work a dead end job and live in a trailer, Samuel L. Jackson didn’t hit the big time until his 40s, and J.K Rowling was a suicidal single mum struggling to get by before becoming one of the most famous authors and richest women in the world.
The moral of their stories? There is always time. As long as you keep working hard and continue to strive to improve, then the world is your oyster (or lobster, as my aunt would say).
Get over it.
Seriously, stop dwelling on it. The more energy you put into negative feelings about yourself or others, the less you have to invest in working to better yourself and achieve your goals. When you feel down, remind yourself good things will come.
Remember: you’ve got this!