What I wish I knew about rejection when I was younger.
Rejection is inevitable.
Splitting up with your partner, failing an exam, being left out by mates, not getting into the college or university you wanted, being dropped from a sports team, being let go at work, failing your driving test and being bullied can leave us all feeling rejected and deflated. No one can live a life free from rejection and we all have our turn at facing it.
Here are 6 things I wish someone had have told me about rejection when I was younger:
No one is keeping count.
Having experienced my own fair share of rejection growing up; I struggled academically, I failed my driving test repeatedly and felt invisible to the opposite sex for most of my teen years to name a few. Somewhere along the line I started to believe that there was an unspoken and invisible number of times I was allowed to fail before I officially became a loser and worse still, someone was keeping count. Turns out unsurprisingly this is total rubbish, yes its true people experience different levels of rejection but no one anywhere is keeping count of yours except for maybe you. Do yourself a favour and stop this right now. You are human and therefore not only entitled to get things wrong, but it is a guarantee that you will – just like the billions of other people in the world.
It happens to all of us.
It is all too easy to feel alone in failure but that is simply not true, when we fail we are in very good company; J.K.Rowling had Harry Potter and The Philosophers Stone rejected by twelve major publishers before it was picked up over a year later by Bloomsbury. Stephen Spielberg was turned down twice when trying to get into the USC Cinematic film School. Walt Disney was fired from his job at the Kansas City Star paper by the editor because he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas” and his first company went bankrupt. One of the best on-screen dancers of all time Fred Astaire was told by the screen tester at MGM that he “Can’t dance, can’t sing” and was “slightly bald”. Jim Carey was booed off stage during his first stand up gig in Toronto. Next time it happens take a deep breath and remind yourself you are not alone nor will you be the last person to go through it.
Look for the lessons.
Rejection hurts and that will never change. But it doesn’t have to be the only thing you experience from it. Rejection can be a great teacher if we are willing to look for the lessons and grow from it. This changed everything for me when I stopped feeling ashamed by my failings and started to try and learn from them. Rejection has taught me to not give up, that its ok to make mistakes and to stop taking everything so personally. This only happened when I stopped running from it and started facing it.
It’s good for us.
Even though it feels like the total opposite, getting rejected is actually good for us. It deflates our ego and if we allow it to – helps us develop a bit of humility. Humility is often confused with being a doormat. This isn’t true. Humility is about right sizing ourselves and knowing we are all the same, no one is above us or below us. So let the rejection be a gentle reminder of your humanness and to treat everybody a little kinder.
The last thing anyone wants to do when they have been rejected is to share it. It’s human nature to want to save face and keep it to ourselves. But this is the worst thing to do as the secrecy soon turns it into a toxic mix of guilt, shame and embarrassment. By sharing it with someone we trust we stop that happening and get the support and strength we need to carry on and keep trying.
Let it make you fearless.
Don’t let a rejection scare you off future attempts. You are more likely to succeed on your second or third try. And even if you don’t get the results you want, you’ll get feedback so you can keep improving. In my experience when I finally figured out that rejection was as bad as I made it and I always have a choice how I view it, it no longer became this scary monster and I got braver. So in face of rejection what counts is standing up again not how many times you get knocked down.
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