So you’ve just been rejected! Congratulations – welcome to the club. Grab a nametag at the door and a drink to the right of the welcome mat. If you want to skip the name tag, that’s fine. We all more than understand the crippling sense of shame that you are currently trying to push down. It’s cool if you want to stay anonymous for a while.
Your first stop in the rejection arrival hall is the Pile Of Irrational Thoughts. We all contribute a few when we get here, because carrying them around all night gets tiring. If you’re looking to draw inspiration from other Incorrect And Irrational Thoughts that we find being frequently contributed to the pile, here are a few that pop up often:
• You are the only person that this has ever happened to and it happened to you because you’re not good enough.
• If you’d been louder or quieter or thinner or hotter or richer, this wouldn’t have happened.
• No one is ever going to love you again, not even your Mom.
• Speaking of your Mom, she’s heard all about what just happened and she’s disappointed in you.
• Everything was fine and on track until you did that one highly specific thing that blew the whole she-bang.
• Everyone you meet is just going to know that this happened. They’re going to see you walking down the street and be like “Oh something’s different…. It’s REJECTION. I can smell it on him/her,” and this will continue to happen for a very long time, basically until you die.
• This is the only thing that has ever mattered and now that you’ve failed at it, nothing matters.
• All your friends and colleagues are sitting in a room together LOL-ing over the tweet you posted last week, vaguely referencing your hope that this would work out.
• You are not as good as other people and you are never going to be.
• Everyone who has ever rejected you is currently just sitting around swirling scotch, cackling and thinking about how pathetic you are.
Are you done rooting through the pile yet? Because this goes on for ages. The sheer volume of self-deprecating judgments that show up to berate us post-rejection are incredible. It’s as though every part of our mind riles against us, trying to justify what happened in the absolute worst way possible.
But here’s a simpler, more realistic truth about why things happened the way they did:
Rejection happens because it just does.
It happens because your values are not aligned with someone else’s. It happens because the timing is hopelessly wrong. It happens because all the intricacies of someone else’s lives don’t always line up with the intricacies of ours and to be honest, life would be boring if they did.
If we didn’t occasionally fail miserably at what we wanted, success would become commonplace and dull. It’s the trying that ends up mattering most. It’s the trying that pushes us in directions we’d have never expected.
But this is what we so often forget when we have been rejected: that we did not show up in a bad place. Sure, none of us want to be milling around in the Reject’s Hall. We want to be living it up in the Winner’s Corner, popping champagne and triumphantly updating our Facebook statuses. But the truth is, there’s a worse place you could be – and that is the pathetic no-man’s land of People Who Never Try For Anything.
The only thing worse than being a rejected person is being a person who’s never had to face rejection because they’ve never actually gone for something. Because they’ve played it small and safe their entire lives and now have no story to tell for themselves.
You see, as much as it hurts to be you in this exact moment, it hurts to be the other kind of person all of the time.
The pain of rejection is sharp but short-lived. The pain of playing it safe your whole life is a dull, throbbing ache that will eventually swallow you whole.
And so you see, it is good that you’ve arrived here. The Rejection Place is not somewhere that you’re going to stay long. Because people like you know better.
People like you know that when you’re feeling unwanted and let down, you have to act counter-intuitively. Instead of secluding yourself further and leaning away from your life, you have to get back up and try again. Take risks again. Put yourself out there again, even if it means chancing further rejection and disappointment.
People like you don’t let a singular rejection turn you into a timid, tired version of yourself who stays indoors and refuses to go after what he or she wants in life. Because at the end of the day, that’s the only real way to lose out. That’s the only true failure that exists.
So now that you’ve realized the reality about the position you’re in, I think it’s time you moved away from the Pile of Irrational Thoughts. There’s another pile of thoughts, in a better-lit room that I want you to check out. I call it the ‘Pile Of Things That Are Probably True,’ and it includes little reminders like this:
• The rejection itself was not personal, it was the result of someone living a complex and nuanced life, which just happens to not revolve around you.
• You got rejected because you tried at something, and in the long run, being the kind of person who tries at things is going to take you infinitely further than any individual opportunity ever could have.
• Literally everyone you know has been rejected, at least once, in a way that really got to them.
• This is also true of everyone you don’t know.
• Your self worth is not contingent on this rejection. You are just as self-worthy as before, possibly even more so, because you pulled the rare and badass move of actually going for something.
• In fact, if you are not getting rejected every now and then, you are definitely playing it too safe in life.
• Trying for something plants a seed. Putting yourself out there plants a seed. Making your plans and intentions public makes them more likely to come to fruition, often when you expect it the absolute least.
• If you hadn’t tried for the thing, you would have driven yourself mad wondering whether or not it would have worked out, which is ultimately worse than a one-time rejection.
• You now have the opportunity to put this whole thing behind you and move the hell on with your life.
• You’re still a sexy, charming, confident, badass motherfucker. Yes you are. This is a fact. I know because you pulled it from the ‘Things That Are Probably True’ pile myself.
Alright – now that you’ve sorted out your thoughts, it’s time for everyone to slap on their nametags and discover who else is in the rejection club.
Oh wow, would you look at that – it’s everyone!
No, literally. Everyone.
It’s that celebrity you admire. It’s that guy you had a crush on in eighth grade. It’s the person you admire most on earth and– oh hey, check this out– it’s the person who did your rejecting!
It turns out nobody is immune from the odd rejection. No matter how hard you try, no matter how right you play it, no matter how qualified you are for whatever it is that you’re going for, you’re going to get turned down now and then. That’s just how things happen. That’s life.
I’d say that I hope not to see you in the reject’s corner again soon. But to be honest, I’d be lying to both of us.
The most successful people end up here the most often, after all.
And I have a good feeling about someone like you.