The Most Important Thing To Tell Yourself When You Face Rejection

“Things are totally gonna work out.”

I’ve had to tell myself this a lot lately when I feel myself slipping into self doubt, or blaming myself for missed opportunities, or feeling just plain defeated on certain days. I’ve also had to tell myself that it’s okay to feel this way. It happens, and I’ll shake it off eventually. I have permission to feel shitty about rejection, at least for a little while.

This is something I’ve only shared with my close friends and family, but a few weeks ago I interviewed for my dream job as an entertainment writer for an online publication based out of NYC. The website is run out of a beautiful office located right in the middle of SoHo, which is my absolute favorite part of the city. I was overwhelmed with excitement over the opportunity to start a career in a field that I’m truly passionate about, coupled with the prospect of working in New York City.

The job was ideal for me, there’s just no other way to put it.

It all started with an email from a stranger expressing his interest in my writing and informing me that there was a position open at the site. There was a brief and casual phone conversation, which was followed by agreeing on a date for me to come down to the office and meet the editors. I couldn’t stop myself from smiling. My mind was racing at all hours of the day and night with new ideas and material that I could bring to the table. I was already planning and working out the details in my mind: the people I’d meet, the articles I’d write, and the newness of it.

I picked out my outfit the night before and woke up much earlier than I needed to. I met another girl on the train who was also going for an interview. We exchanged numbers and planned to meet for drinks afterward. I felt really good about the whole thing.

I navigated my way through the city with ease and arrived outside the huge brick building an hour early. My nerves were jumping and my entire body was vibrating with restlessness and excitement. I waited the entire hour outside the building, sipping a strawberry banana smoothie from a nearby street vendor.

I stood there on my phone reading through all the well wishes from my friends and family. A good luck phone call from my mother (of course) and it was finally time to go inside! When I arrived at the correctly numbered suite, I had to do a double take. This office was literally something out of a movie. No, seriously, I think it was probably used to film an office scene.

I was led into a large conference room made completely of glass. I wanted to get my phone out and take a picture of how freaking amazing this office was, but I thought better of it. The guy I had spoken with on the phone offered me some water, then sat down and told me a little bit about the website. He answered some of my questions and then left to get the editors.

At this point my nerves were replaced with sheer elation. There it was, this perfect opportunity just dangling itself right in front of me. Almost ready to take. The interview was less of an interview and more of a conversation, which I greatly prefer to rapid fire question and answer style. I spoke with the editors about my educational background, my writing, posts that I’ve published, and about the website in general. They went over their expectations and what a typical workday is like.

I didn’t think it possible, but I was even more thrilled with the prospect of working there than I had been when I initially walked in. The editors thanked me for my time and the person who had originally greeted me saw me out. He said that they would “be in touch within a few days.” Those words hung over my head and taunted me during the days that followed.

I fell asleep that night replaying the interview in my head and hoping. And hoping. And hoping.

The next day I sent out a thank you email (because that’s what you’re supposed to do, duh!)

I waited exactly a week before sending a follow up email and received a reply stating that the hiring process was slower than usual because the founder of the website was out of town. He said we would discuss “next steps” within the next few days. “Next steps,” I thought. I meditated on those two words for a while. To me, they seemed to carry with them a positive connotation — the promise of next steps fueled my excitement and bolstered my notion that I had gotten the job.

But two days later I received an email that I honestly didn’t expect to get; one informing me that the editors had decided to “go in a different direction with this hire.” By different direction they must mean different person, right? To say I was crushed would have been an understatement. They loved my writing and had seen all of my articles. They had asked me to come down to the city and meet the editors. It must have been me that they didn’t like. The next few hours were spent dissecting myself: was it the way I had dressed? Spoken? Looked? Something specific I had said? What was it that made me not good enough?

I picked myself apart.

I had built up this insane desire to get a job that, as ridiculous as it sounds, I didn’t even realize I wanted to begin with. As a matter of fact, I hadn’t even known this particular job existed. A string of emails, an interview, and a train ticket later, I was wallowing in self pity. A missed failed opportunity. High hopes that were dashed in a matter of days. My dream job was no longer dangling in front of me, because someone else had presumably grabbed it.

Fortunately, I received a ton of support and encouragement from people close to me. There was a lot of “it wasn’t meant for you” and “it’s their loss” being uttered. But, let’s be real, it was my loss. I would have loved that job, and I would have thrived in that environment. I would have worked harder, wrote better, and grown from the experience.

But I guess in some ways you grow from rejection, too.

Rejection is a catalyst. It sets in motion the motivation to improve yourself and hone your skills so that the next time an opportunity presents itself you will walk into it saying, “I’ve got this shit.”

So, even though I didn’t get my dream job, I think that things are totally gonna work out. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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