Did you just apply for that internship or early decision to college and are waiting to hear back?
The truth is, everyone will have to face rejection at some point in their life- it's part of the learning process. One of my favorite workshops in my time of Year On was Rejection Therapy. We spent a class exploring the topic of rejection, but more importantly how to use it to our advantage.
For me, rejection has always been something I fear. I am a true people pleaser, through-and-through. It would keep me from reaching out to people (like most Gen Z I hate speaking on the phone), applying to jobs became overwhelming, and I spent countless nights worrying about my college admission. I needed everyone to like me, so I felt like I had to be perfect. After my first college rejection, I beat myself up because I thought it meant that I had failed in some way. School became a toxic place in December, with classmates finding out about early decisions at the same time. I let one rejection paralyze me.
But in reality, rejection does not define you. Yes, you may have really wanted to go to that one school, but let that rejection motivate you to thrive at another school. Don’t stop chasing your dreams because someone told you no. It took me a few months to see that the school I got rejected to wasn’t the school I was meant to attend. I probably wouldn’t have done well at that school.
I wish I had been kinder to myself during that rejection. I also wish that I had understood that most times, rejection is not personal. During Year On’s workshop, they help you realize that rejection isn’t something to be afraid of. Fear holds you back. But learning from those rejections helps you succeed. The workshops taught me that rejection isn’t the end of the world, and sometimes good things can come from it. In a time of high stress, remember that this is probably not your first rejection. You’ve survived rejection before. And it certainly won’t be your last rejection.
Here are three exercises that you can add to your tool box to help remedy your fear of rejection for the future.
Read this article from Psychologist Guy Winch about why rejection hurts so much and what to do about it. He explains lessons like, “The greatest damage rejection causes is usually self-inflicted. Just when our self-esteem is hurting most, we go and damage it even further” and “most rejections, whether romantic, professional, and even social, are due to ‘fit’ and circumstance. Going through an exhaustive search of your own deficiencies in an effort to understand why it didn’t “work out” is not only unnecessarily but misleading.”
- Why is rejection important and relevant to you?
- How do you deal with rejection? What is the impact in your life?
- How has the idea of rejection potentially held you back from trying new things?
Create a list of 3 things that you’ve been wanting to do. They may scare you, or you have not made time for them yet, you may wonder about them. Just write it down. Put this list somewhere you can see it everyday and check in with yourself about your progress. Think about how you are getting back up from past failures and how you will receive and expand with future rejections.