This is the third college that has rejected your application. The second time you have failed this class. The fifth time your boss has put down your hard work. The tenth time someone has rejected your art. This is the hundredth time someone in a position of power has said you aren’t good enough.
They say that numbers count. That the whole world is made of digits and figures – time, money, hours worked, the calendar year. Your entire story is made up of digits. But they also say that those numbers only matter if you let them.
I know. You have heard this so often before that it feels trite, clichéd, repetitive. So instead, lets talk about them in a different way. In a way where the numbers, although they mattered to the people that had to face rejection and failure, left a lasting impact on our world.
Five. The number of times Henry Ford was left broke by his early businesses before he founded the highly successful Ford Motor Company.
Three hundred. The amount of times Walt Disney was rejected by bankers because the idea of Mickey Mouse according to them was absurd.
One thousand. The measure of failed attempts made by Thomas Edison before he was finally able to successfully invent the light-bulb.
Fifteen. The rank of Louis Pasteur, inventor of vaccines that have saved millions, out of the twenty students in his undergraduate chemistry class.
Twelve. The quantity of Emily Dickinson’s poems that were published during her lifetime out of the one thousand eight hundred she sent to publishers.
Twenty seven. The amount of publishers that rejected Theodor Seuss Gisel’s, better known as Dr. Seuss’s, first book To Think I Saw It on Mulberry Street.
One thousand three hundred and thirty. The record held by Babe Ruth for strike outs.
Six hundred. The number of rejection slips sent to Jack London, the writer of White Fang and The Call of the Wild, for his first story.
Twelve. That was how many times Harry Potter was rejected before finally being accepted by Bloomsbury on account of an editor’s eight year old daughter wanting to know how the story ended.
Two hundred. The amount of rejections received by Western writer Louis L’Amour before Bantam took a chance on him.
Sixty two. The age of Winston Churchill was when he finally made office as Prime Minister after years of political defeat.
Seven. The number of failed businesses run by R.H. Macy before the creation of the highly successful Macy’s.
Eight hundred. The estimated number of paintings created by Vincent Van Gogh in his lifetime. Paintings that no one wanted until years after he died.
Three. How many times Steven Spielberg was rejected by the University of Southern California’s School of Theatre, Film and Television.
Countless and undocumented. The many rejections and failures of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Charles Monet, Socrates, Orville and Wilbur Wright, Abraham Lincoln – people who, had they given up, the history of the world would be very different from how we know it, right now, at this very moment.
So you have been rejected. Maybe more times than you can count. Maybe you have failed, and everyone around you is judging you as a failure. Good. Let them. The people who underestimate you are doing you a huge favor in dismissing your talent, your intellect, your abilities. They are giving you the chance and the opportunity to prove them wrong.
And there is nothing more satisfying than success that has been achieved after so much failure.
If Walt Disney was fired for his lack of imagination, and JK Rowling was told to get a day job because there was no way she could make money through children’s book, and Charles Darwin was dismissed as a dreamer with no future by his father; then those that reject you, that put you down can be so wrong, so very wrong about you, too.
They say that numbers count. The only time that numbers count is how many times you get up again after you have fallen and failed.
So get back up, dust yourself off, and prove them all wrong, like the universe intends for you to.