Everyone gets rejected: more or less, and bit comes in all forms, being ignored, getting a no, being ghosted which I have a little personal story about that I’ll share with you later.
There’s rejection with an explanation, there’s rejection with no explanation at all. We might experience it from a friend, a partner, an employer or even a stranger.
Sometimes it stings for just a brief moment and then we forget about it, other times it can stay with us for years, perhaps forever, even.
Today, I’d like to talk about rejection, and I’m going to do something that I don’t usually do which is to share a few personal stories, because I think hearing about other people’s experiences can be comforting and encouraging.
And there’s also something in it for me – I get to be vulnerable and, in a way, make light of it, because at the end of the day, it really isn’t the end of the world. Ultimately, rejection is simply part of any process that entails going from wanting something to getting it, because it’s rarely, if ever, a straight line, which means you’ll probably fall off a few times, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get back up and keep walking.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not immune to the pain rejection can bring by any means, but I never want to lead a life where I let fear of rejection lead to a lack of initiative.
And, as someone close to me always says, to dare is a gain in itself.
Alright, let’s get into these rejection stories. I figured I’d start out light just to warm myself up, and then gradually get to the more painful stuff.
So, what I recall as my first sense of feeling personally rejected is from when I was about 8 or 9 years old and I’d send emails to what I believed was various cast members of Harry Potter declaring my love and asking if there was any way we could meet.
I might’vevalso expressed my interest in acting and asked if I could be in any of the upcoming film, and I remember this so vividly for some reason.
I’d find these email addresses online that allegedly belonged to, let’s say, Emma Watson. And I’d also make up email addresses that I figured should belong to her, like, for instance, email@example.com.
18 or so years later, I still never got a response, I have no idea who those emails actually went to. By the way, I just want to disclaim that the only reason this is somewhat funny and cute is because I was 8 years old.
There’s nothing funny or cute about bombarding anyone with emails. Now, while I no longer send emails to Harry Potter cast members, reaching out to various people is still part of something that I do and something I want to do much more of, because it has led to some pretty interesting conversations with people and cool opportunities.
But of course, there are still instances where the person shows no interest in what I have to say. But as Nora Roberts said, If You Don't Ask, the Answer Is Always No.
Now, when it comes to reaching out to someone, whether that’s emailing or on Instagram or wherever, I personally don’t really think much of it anymore. Most of the time I’ll just write, press send and forget about it.
But if there’s a situation where I get filled with anticipation for whatever reason, only to get rejected, I think of it as “it’s not a loss, it’s just not a gain”. I might even take it a step further and think I did gain a few things: bettering my email writing skills, becoming more comfortable with stepping out of my comfort zone, growing a tiny bit more resilient and so forth.
Moving on to the second story. When I think of rejection, a time that stands out to me is school. Now, school is a big chunk of a person’s life, like, 13 years? And all 13 weren’t bad by any means, I had some really good times and good friends, but I also had some pretty bad times where people would be mean to me and alienate me, to put it lightly.
I still have my journal entries from that time where I express a lot of sadness and even anger, too. I could definitely make a long article about this topic alone and the things I learned, but I’d like to share two things.
For starters, and this isn’t to say that your school years don’t matter and that you should just suck it up, but I wish I had understood at the time that the world is much bigger than your school and the people in it. Who you are in school or how many friends you have or how popular you are really will not matter as you enter “the real world” – not even when you enter university.
Now, I’m not saying it won’t matter to you, because going through a tough time in school can definitely take a toll on your mental health, and you might need to work through it, perhaps with a therapist, but it won’t matter to anyone else.
The second thing isn’t exactly a lesson, but rather, a way in which I think that period in my life shaped me: I became someone who always looked for the new person, or the lonely person, trying to make them comfortable and trying to include them.
And sometimes, I might’ve come across as a bit intrusive, but I’d rather risk being a bit intrusive if it means I could possibly be the person I wish someone had been for me.
Okay, we have reached story number three on this list, which is about the time when I essentially got ghosted by someone I had been seeing for a few months. It was really painful, actually.
He eventually reached out to me, but obviously, that door was closed. So, this is also one of those things that taught me a lot, but I think one of the central lessons was that: there are some things that we will never understand, and the better we can get at making peace with that, the less we’ll suffer.
You may never fully understand why someone didn’t respond to you, why you didn’t get the job, why someone left you, why your friend doesn’t seem to like you. As much as we wish that each rejection came with a nice glittery letter and a bow explaining why, that’s just not how things work.
It actually felt pretty good sharing that for some reason. Now, overall, when it comes to rejection, I just try not to think in extremes. I don’t think “I suck and I’m worthless” and send myself down a spiral, but I also don’t think “I’m the greatest of all time and they just don’t know it” because that leaves no space for self-reflection and improvement.
I’ve found that one of the key factors in finding that healthy balance is honesty. So, while I try not to dwell and make things worse for myself, I also don’t just brush it off like it’s nothing.
I don’t try to minimize what’s happened or what I’m feeling. If something hurt like hell, it’s okay to feel that. Just like it’s okay to recognize when something actually didn’t hurt nearly as much as we thought.
Whatever is true, let yourself feel it and take it from there.